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Immigration Tango | Film Review | Slant Magazine

Roadside Attractions

Immigration Tango

Immigration Tango

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Immigration Tango features a setup that could potentially make for a satirical and sexy farce—maybe a Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice for a generation sadly accustomed to news of rising unemployment rates and the continued mistreatment and exploitation of illegal aliens. Carlos (Carlos Leon) is a salt-of-the-earth Colombian hunk struggling to make ends meet as a cook at a café in Miami, all while his beautiful Russian girlfriend, Elena (Elika Portnoy), is unsuccessfully trying to get her foot somewhere in a door she vaguely defines as a career in corporate finance. Carlos and Elena both have visas nearing expiration, and so they turn to their couldn’t-be-whiter best friends: Mike (McCaleb Burnett), a privileged student very gradually carving away at a PhD in sonnets, and his girlfriend, Betty (Ashley Wolfe), a controlling workaholic approaching graduation from law school. Eventually, the gang decides that Mike will marry Elena, and Carlos will marry Betty, so as to allow Carlos and Elena extra time to find their footing in the States.

It’s not too difficult to see the romantic confusion that’s in the cards for these characters, which could be fine, if the movie were funny, convincing, or even remotely competently made. In fact, there’s quite a bit of room for parody in the notion of two uptight whites finding true sexual gratification at the hands of their desperate, financial inferiors, but the film doesn’t seem to understand the latent racism of this not-uncommon fantasy, and is instead content to merely indulge it. Immigration Tango is a hodgepodge of racial stereotypes that might’ve been edgy in…well, there’s no material here that was ever edgy. A tossed-off sketch on something as relentlessly harmless and pandering as The George Lopez Show is cutting by comparison. (A sexual harassment scene near the film’s opening is particularly offensive.) The acting, with the exception of Leon (who shows promise), appears to consist of reading cue cards, while the seams in the already rudimentary blocking of the players constantly shows. Immigration Tango is the kind of surreally terrible comedy you’d come across on HBO at three in the morning…in the 1980s.

Roadside Attractions
90 min
David Burton Morris
Martin L. Kelley, David Burton Morris, Todd Norwood
McCaleb Burnett, Elika Portnoy, Carlos Leon, Ashley Wolfe