Born in East L.A. | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Born in East L.A. 

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Richard "Cheech" Marin has expanded his video spoof of Bruce Springsteen's anthem of the 80s, "Born in the U.S.A.," into a throwaway comedy that really delivers. Written, directed by, and starring Cheech himself, with a cheerful indifference to technique, the film follows a Mexican-American and his comic misadventures with the Immigration and Naturalization Service. The picture gets a respectable number of laughs out of the parallel multiple misunderstandings of the non-Spanish-speaking hero stranded in Tijuana and his equally monolingual Mexican cousin in LA, with plenty of healthy digs at the crassness of white Americans in dealing with Latinos on both sides of the border; it's down-home ethnic humor with lots of sentiment and sincerity. (Chong appears only as a painting of Christ on the cross with eyes that open and shut.) With a supporting cast including Daniel Stern, Kamala Lopez, Paul Rodriguez, and Jan-Michael Vincent. (Water Tower, Bolingbrook, Chicago Ridge, Diana, Ford City, Norridge, Nortown, Orland Square, Ridge, Woodfield, Yorktown, Bel-Air Drive-In, Hillside Mall)

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