Directed, co-written, and starring the immensely popular performer/comedian Eugenio Derbez, "Instructions Not Included" is a comedy-drama that earned $44.5 million in North America and more than $100 million world-wide. It was also the third most popular film of 2013 in Mexico (behind only "Iron Man 3" and "Despicable Me 2." Not bad at all for a film - one that's a Hispanic Heritage Month absolute must-see - that only cost $5 million to make.
The story, featuring Mexican funny man Derbez in a tale that's equally comedic and dramatic, is one of a playboy who reforms himself and learns to be an adult and a father.
Valentin Bravo (Derbez) ran away from home as a youth, after his own difficult past with a father who constantly tormented him.
The movie finds a grown-older Valentin in Acapulco romancing the tourists. He lives his life with little worries and care. Then, an old lover, Julie, shows up with a baby daughter, says that he's the father, and promptly ditches them back to LA. Valentin then decides to take the youngster and travel to the City of Angels to reunite mom and child.
While he does make it to California, he learns to truly love his baby girl Maggie after jumping into a pool from 10 stories above to save her from drowning. He's subsequently cast by a director as a stunt performer.
Over the next six years, father and daughter bond. The little one even helps translate for her dad on set. Her mom, though, eventually shows up at their door, and attempts to regain full custody.
Valentin and Maggie escape back to Acapulco, but Julie finds them. However, something else occurs, and the three become – however briefly – a family. By the end, Valentin has only gratitude and appreciation for everything he's been given in his life.
Hispanic Heritage Connections
"Instructions Not Included" is the rare authentic Hispanic production to become an international commercial hit. It is the highest-grossing Spanish-language film to open in North America. And it's the fourth highest-grossing foreign film of all time in the US.
Why You Should See It
While critics were mixed on the film, with a 57% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, general audiences loved it. The gave it an 89% score and an "A+" CinemaScore. In the end, it's a movie that wears its heart proudly on its sleeves. It's also a showcase for the versatile Derbez, and Loreto Peralta who plays his daughter. For family audiences, it's a gem worth seeking out.
Did You Know
Three years later, a French remake of the film was released called "Two Is a Family," starring Omar Sy in the Derbez role. Two more years later, in 2018, a Brazilian version was released called "No Returns Accepted" starring Leandro Hassum.
Chuck is an editor/writer who's worked for NCM, Fandango, Movies.com, MediaTrip, Hollywood.com and Newsweek. His favorite movie is "Jaws." He's definitely a dog guy.