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Review: ‘In Search of the American Dream’ is both sincere and a clunker of an immigration drama

“In Search of the American Dream”
Daniela Jimenez, left, and Kayla Valdez play children taken from their home by Child Protective Services in the movie “In Search of the American Dream.”
(Adelante Pictures)

Although the thunderous opening score makes it clear from the outset that understatement won’t be a major component of “In Search of the American Dream,” it still does not prepare you for just how amateurishly over-the-top this bloated, laughably melodramatic saga about a Mexican family on the run from the authorities turns out to be.

When his parents are arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents during a raid on a Texas house, eldest adult son David (the film’s writer and director, Baldemar Rodriguez) desperately hits the road with his much younger siblings rather than see them split up by Child Protective Services.

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Unsurprisingly, the road hits back, and, as fate will have it, the cops soon join ICE and CPS on David’s tail after a routine traffic stop goes terribly wrong.

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Obviously Rodriguez, with his first feature, had something heartfelt he wished to say about the plight of  families ripped apart by the country’s immigration laws. However, sincerity alone cannot begin to compensate for a clunker of this magnitude, including an abundance of technical issues, bad dialogue and worse performances.

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Long before the overwrought ending arrives, “In Search of the American Dream,” which was actually completed back in 2011, will send most viewers scrambling in search of the exits.

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‘In Search of the American Dream’

 In English and Spanish with English subtitles

 MPAA rating: PG-13, for a scene of violence, thematic elements and language 

 Running time: 2 hours, 23 minutes

 Playing: Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills


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