Movie Review: ‘Girl In Progress’
For Mother’s Day, if you’re in the mood for a film that will make you think about mom and everything she put up with while you were going through that rebellious stage during your teenage years, there may be better options out there than Girl In Progress. However, if you want to see a film that is a bit more realistic than your typical tearjerker, mother/daughter bonding film, then Girl In Progress is more likely to make you go, “Now that’s refreshing.”
Grace (Eva Mendes) plays the mother to 17-year-old Ann (Cierra Ramirez). And before I continue, you read that right—Eva Mendes is old enough to be a mom to a 17-year-old. Grace is not your typical mom—she’d rather party, go out with her married boyfriend (Matthew Modine), and is too busy working wo spend any time with Ann. Ann appears to be the more responsible of the two—until she takes a coming of age assignment very literally. She begins to smoke, changes her hairstyle, the way she dresses, and wins the acceptance of the cooler kids by stealing hall passes, getting them alcohol, even alienating her less cooler best friend. This is all calculated and planned out, none of this comes about organically. To top her real life coming of age story, she has on her agenda plans to lose her virginity to the coolest guy at school. Grace meanwhile barely notices the change until Ann begins showing her disrespect. Grace is all about Grace until a serious incident involving Ann leads to the both of them to starting to realize that they need to get their act together.
While the film moves along fairly quickly to show the development of each of the characters (we see Grace going from her partying ways to being more of a concerned mother while Ann goes from being the invisible new girl at school to gaining maturity from her experiment gone wrong), the relationship between the two always remain front and center. This is not an Eva Mendes starring vehicle but a true character driven dramedy that explores the modern mother/daughter relationship. It’s mostly Latino cast and Latina director (Patricia Riggen) do a nice job of not making this a Latino film but a film for all to relate to. It’s a not too predictable, warm family film. With that said, Grace’s interaction with her new popular friends just comes across as lame, whereas her relationship with her best friend Tavita (Raini Rodriguez) gets lost due to too many issues facing Ann and Grace not to mention their own issues with each other. A tighter, less busier script would have sufficed. Still, it’s sweet and charming enough to recommend but I’d definitely wait until it’s out on DVD. –Rob P