'Instructions Not Included' is a Spanish language film that flew under the radar for many people, but has grossed almost $100 million since its theatrical release. Needless to say, it's a pretty successful foreign film. Mexican television star Eugenio Derbez plays triple duty here as co-writer, director, and star of his own movie, about a man who is only interested in having sex with multiple women, but his whole world is turned up-side down when a former fling drops a baby off at his door-step, claiming it is his child. And a story that we have seen and heard many times before is set in motion.
Even though this story has been told to us one-thousand times, this little film manages some great laughs and some genuinely charming moments throughout, even if its third act completely falls a apart. It's always fun to see these types of movies where the child teaches the adult big lessons in life, as it is more of a grown-up coming of age movie. But with 'Instructions Not Included' as is the saying goes when you have baby, Derbez has concocted a funny story with two magnetic characters who learn to love each other. However, there are some 'out of left-field' twists and turns here that should have stayed on the cutting room floor, and threw this movie off its course.
Derbez plays Valentin, who lives in a tropical climate and spends his days and evenings trying to sleep with women, and he is always successful. We instantly like Valentin despite his lifestyle as we see a few flashbacks to when he was a little kid where his father put him through some pretty nightmarish tests such as spending the night in the graveyard or having a tarantula crawl on your face. It is because of this, Valentin wants to live each day to the fullest and he does so by having many women at once.
But when an old fling, the American named Julie (Jessica Lindsey) shows up on his doorstep one morning, and leave him with their baby he did not know they had, his world flipped on its nose. In one of the not-so-well written scenes, Julie calls Valentin and tell him she can't care for the baby and he must do so. While she is telling him this, he can hear an airport employee that the last flight to Hollywood is about to leave. So Valentin heads to Hollywood to find Julie, but when Valentin pulls a big daredevil stunt to save his new baby's life from an impending accident, a big Hollywood producer witnesses his insane act of bravery and hires him on the spot as a stunt-man for big Hollywood films.
Fast forward a few years later and we see that his new baby is a bright young girl now named Maggie (Loreto Peralto), where they live a decent life and not only have the father-daughter relationship, but also have a good friendship as she acts as his 'on-set' film coach. Meanwhile, Valentin is the leading stunt-man now in Hollywood and has changed his playboy ways in order to take care of his endearing kid. Things go pretty well, until Julie shows back up in what seems to be lazy writing and taken from the film 'Kramer vs. Kramer'. Julie wants Maggie back and now Valentin must defend his parental rights. If that weren't enough, Derbez throws in another aspect to this comedy now turned drama that doesn't seem to fit this story.
The good thing about 'Instructions Not Included' is the performances by Derbez and Peralto. Their unlikely relationship with all of their quirks shines on screen and you'll want to spend more than just the two hours we are given with them. But some of these plot-lines and twists that turn the film into a drama rather than the fun comedy it was makes this a mess of a movie in its third act. ' Instructions Not Included' could have used instructions along the way, but it's still an enjoyable film.
'Instructions Not Included' comes with a good 1080p HD transfer presented in 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Detail is often sharp during closeups, but when wider shots are shown, the picture goes a bit soft and flat. But the closeups look good with well-defined textures. The colors are vibrant throughout the entire movie and are very well-saturated.
It really is a beautiful and colorful film to look at. The exteriors shots are gorgeous here. Black levels run deep and inky, while the skin tones are natural. There was some minor motion blur here and there, but no banding or other severe compression problems to speak of. Solid video presentation.
This release comes with a good lossless DTS-HD 5.1 audio mix in Spanish with some great English subtitles. This a dialogue heavy audio track and it sounds crystal clear. The dialogue is well-balanced on the center channel and free of any pops, cracks, or hissing.
The sound effects and ambient noises come through the surrounds nicely, but it doesn't happen too often, and when it does, more sound pours through the front rather than the rears. The score sounds good here too and never drowns out any of the dialogue. Don't expect a big action-packed sound here, but this audio track gets the job done.
'Instructions Not Included' is a charming movie with great characters. Unfortunately, the movie gets away from itself and becomes something trite. It tries too hard to get us to feel, especially in the third act. The video and audio presentations are all good with the sole extra being a solid commentary. This is one of the better father-daughter films out there and even though there are some flaws with this, I'm still going to recommend it.