‘Instructions Not Included’
American moviegoers may only know Eugenio Derbez from “Jack and Jill,” in which he played Felipe, the Mexican gardener who is romantically involved with the titular Jill, played by Adam Sandler in drag. They shouldn’t hold that crass and unfunny mess against the actor, who is a TV superstar in his native Mexico. He’s far funnier and far sweeter in “Instructions not Included,” a Mexican dramedy directed by and starring Derbez that was quietly released in the United States.
The actor has a good reputation among the Spanish-speaking audience. While polished, amusing and with some crossover appeal, the film is geared mainly to Hispanics who are already in the know. One joke in the film – which concerns an unemployed Acapulco playboy-turned-Hollywood-stuntman left to raise a child he fathered with one of his exes – is set up by the statistic that stuntman is one of the three most dangerous professions in the world. What’s No. 2? Pizza deliveryman in Mexico City.
I’m not sure how that punchline would play to room full of viewers who are unfamiliar with crime in the Mexican capital, but an audience of Hispanics, many of whom brought young children to a recent screening, ate it up.
Although mostly a predictable comedy about parental ineptitude, “Instructions Not Included” takes a surprisingly dark turn toward the end.