I am not likely to do a movie review very often but the movie that I saw this weekend “Instructions Not Included” left me quite moved.
The premise of the story is quite a common one that we have seen in movies before. Handsome but lazy ladies man, Valentin,played by (Eugenio Derbez) beds all the foreign women in the resort town that he lives in until one day one of the girls he had impregnated comes to drop off his daughter. The mother soon escapes back to the U.S with Valentin coming to the realization that the fun has ended and that he now has to become responsible and take care of his child.
Valentin decides to go to the U.S to track down the mother with no success and ends up living in Los Angles and starting a successful career as a stuntman. Over the next 6 years Valentin grows into a loving and caring father to the point over indulgence. He lets his daughter skip school when she feels bad and he turns his apartment into a giant playground so that his daughter can play. Given that Valentin lost all contact with the mother, Valentin pens letters from the girls mother and gives them to his daughter in order to fill the hole in his daughters heart for the mother that she never met.
The fact is Valentin did not have to do this, but he knew that for his daughter’s sake it was important for her to have a mother that cared for her and loved her. Valentin would pen fantastic stories about her mother travelling the world and saving the world as a quasi superhero all for the sake of his daughter.
I have witnessed many divorce cases where the parents try to destroy each other in front of the kids, the ultimate form of this punishment being parental alienation. Parents from these types of divorces have no real general regard for their children and are really only concerned about their own pain and anger.
In the movie, the mother does come back and asks to get custody for the child. The contrast between the two parents- the mother looking to safeguard her rights as a parent, and Valentin’s interest only in his daughters well being is illuminating.
Valentin’s noble quest to protect and look after his daughters interest before his makes this a movie for any parent to see.