Combustible Celluloid
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With: Michel Joelsas, Germano Haiut, Paulo Autran, Simone Spoladore, Eduardo Moreira, Caio Blat, Daniela Piepszyk, Liliana Castro, Rodrigo dos Santos, Felipe Hanna Braun, Gabriel Eric Bursztein, Abrahão Farc, Haim Fridman, Edu Guimarães, Hugueta Sendacz
Written by: Claudio Galperin, Cao Hamburger, Bráulio Mantovani, Anna Muylaert
Directed by: Cao Hamburger
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Language: Portuguese, Yiddish, German, with English subtitles
Running Time: 104
Date: 09/26/2006

The Year My Parents Went on Vacation (2008)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)


By Jeffrey M. Anderson

From Brazil, director Cao Hamburger brings us yet another example of the "coming-of-age" genre. These stories can be set anywhere in the world, with any set of circumstances, and they all come down to the exact same story elements, rhythms and clichés. This crowd- and critic-pleaser is set in 1970, when Brazil was in the grip of both revolutionary fever and World Cup fever. Young Mauro (Michel Joelsas) suddenly finds himself scooped up by his panicked parents and deposited on the doorstep of his grandfather, while his mom and dad disappear on a mysterious "vacation." (Presumably, they're fighting the military dictatorship of the time, but the movie thankfully never goes into this.) Mauro's father (Eduardo Moreira) promises that they'll be back in time for the big game. Unfortunately, Mauro's grandfather has died, and he winds up in the care of a neighbor, Shlomo (Germano Haiut). While Mauro waits for his parents to return, he hangs out in his grandfather's apartment, tries on clothes, dreams about soccer, falls in love with a sexy older woman and a girl his own age, befriends some bullies, learns to love the cranky old Shlomo, cheers, laughs, cries, etc. It has little to do with any actual human experience and everything with re-creating experiences from other movies. If you've seen My Life as a Dog (1985), Cinema Paradiso (1989), King of the Hill (1993), or similar, countless others, you've seen this one too.

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