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.
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.
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.
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.
‘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