REVIEW: LOWRIDERS – THE MOVIE
Lowrider culture meets the big screen

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From the film Lowriders (image courtesy of BH Tilt and Universal Pictures)

From the film, LOWRIDERS (image courtesy of BH Tilt and Universal Pictures)



By Tom Gomez

I had the privilege of being invited to the screening of the new car culture movie, LOWRIDERS, directed by Ricardo de Montreuil. I might be a little biased on this movie because I spent many years as a contributing editor and photographer for LOWRIDER magazine, and was involved in covering Lowrider shows all across the country. I saw a lot of real life events that are replicated in this movie.

The movie depicts the East L.A. Lowrider lifestyle, and focuses on the issues of Old school veterano father Miguel (Demian Bichir), who wants his two sons to follow in his footsteps and keep the family tradition of building badass custom Lowriders. But the sons are stubborn, like their dad, and want to do things their way, which isn’t always the best choice as they both end up in jail. The oldest son, Ghost, (played by Theo Rossi) and the younger son, Chicano graffiti artist Danny (Gabriel Chavarria) struggle to find themselves and to please their strong-willed father. It doesn’t go well.

Demian Bichir and Eva Longoria in the film Lowriders (image courtesy of Eva Longoria, BH Tilt and Universal Pictures)

Demian Bichir and Eva Longoria in the film, LOWRIDERS (image courtesy of Eva Longoria, BH Tilt and Universal Pictures)

Veteran actor and one of the hottest Latinas on the scene is Eva Longoria, who plays street-smart pinup mom Gloria. She does a superb job of playing the only family member who has it together, and strives constantly to keep her adopted family in check. She even knows how to work on cars, and is the secret mechanic that gives Miguel tips on how to fix the beloved ’61 Impala bubble top.

Speaking of custom Lowriders, the movie is chocked full of some of the coolest Lowriders you will find anywhere. One of my biggest complaints on movies or TV shows that try to show Lowrider cars, is they aren’t always true to life. LOWRIDERS L.A. is! I was pleased to see the quality of the cars in the movie. I wish there was a little more interaction with the cars. Maybe because I’m a car guy, I wanted a tad more.

One critical point in the movie was the fact that not all Mexican Americans speak Spanish or listen to Mariachi music. “We do eat tacos,” Danny says in one scene. Which is an important fact of being a Mexican American. You’re not always accepted in so-called white circles because you’re a Mexican, and sometimes you’re not accepted in the “Straight outta Mexico” Mexican circles because they think you’re too white.

So what does a Mexican American do to stay sane amidst of all this tug-of-war racial turmoil? He builds a badass Lowrider, cruises Wilshire Boulevard and gets stopped by the cops for hopping or three-wheeling around a street corner.

From the film, LOWRIDERS (image courtesy of BH Tilt and Universal Pictures)

From the film, LOWRIDERS (image courtesy of BH Tilt and Universal Pictures)

At a Lowrider show in Oklahoma a few years ago (yes Oklahoma – believe it or not, there are Lowriders in Oklahoma), we met a young white kid who was so down with Lowrider that not only did he own one but he had a Lowrider magazine emblem tattooed on his arm. He then told a story about him hopping his Lowrider one night and getting pulled over by the cops. They gave him a ticket of $300 for “doing unnatural acts with a car”. He showed us the ticket and there it was in print. He vowed to fight it in court. We never heard if he won or not, but god bless that kid for staying true to his belief and his tattoo.

This movie shows the audience that not just Mexican Americans but anyone with heart and devotion can accomplish their dreams. And if they want something bad enough, good old fashion hard work can get you there. Granted the lure of making a fast buck and doing things illegally is always tempting. As what happens in the movie, both Ghost and little brother Danny end up in jail for doing just that.

My main criticism of the movie is there isn’t enough laughter and camaraderie between the characters. If any of you readers out there (and you don’t have to be a Lowrider to understand this) ever worked on a custom car, you know what it’s like to feel the passion and the help from friends and family, the gut wrenching laughter and good times are a huge part of building a rad custom car, truck or bike. The movie does show the end result of hard work, and the beauty of the car as a piece of art, which is cool.

From the film, LOWRIDERS (image courtesy of BH Tilt and Universal Pictures)

From the film, LOWRIDERS (image courtesy of BH Tilt and Universal Pictures)

As the movie progresses, Danny meets Lorelai, a young hipster and aspiring photographer (played by Melissa Benoist) who befriends him by unknowingly taking photos of his artwork and making a profit. She then persuades him to show his art to a real art connoisseur in hopes of having his art in a legitimate art gallery. It goes bad, with Danny telling Lorelai that she doesn’t understand what he’s about.

Without giving any more details away so that you readers will go check out the flick, the movie is about art, passion, culture, stereotypes, expectations of those stereotypes, and just plain building super tricked-out cars that are truly rolling pieces of art. Whether you like Lowrider cars or not, you have to appreciate the hard work, natural talent and dedication that goes into building these incredibly beautiful cars that were built to drive to shows and in some cases, drive daily. No trailer queens here.

Orale vatos, keep it low and slow, tu sabres.

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For more information about the movie, go to the Lowriders Facebook page.

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