April 21, 2024

Miguel Wants to Fight 2023 Movie Review

Spread the love

Miguel Wants to Fight 2023 Movie Review

HOW has Miguel (Flores) never been in a fight? That fact flies in the face of the odds, considering: He lives in a tough neighborhood (and goes to a tough school) where fighting is a given. His friends Cass (Imani Lewis), Srini (Suraj Partha) and David (Christian Vunipola) routinely get into fights. His dad, Alberto (Raul Castillo), is a boxing coach at the local gym, where Cass and David train. And he loves action movies – Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee, anime – so much, he recreates his favorite fight scenes on TikTok. Fighting is embedded in his culture.

Yet when a jerk on the basketball court shit-talks Srini, David and Cass jump into the brawl while Miguel stays out of it. And his friends don’t think anything of it. They know Miguel. He doesn’t fight. He’s a nice guy. They love him for who he is. He can kick ass – at math. Still, he feels the need to, I dunno, fit in? Prove himself? Challenge himself? So he decides he needs to get into a fight. Cass and Srini, who have some goofball tendencies, support the notion. But David, his longest and oldest bestie, isn’t so sure about it; he’d rather see Miguel be Miguel.

Then Miguel gets some difficult news – his mom got a new job in Albany, two hours away. They’re moving, soon, to a nicer neighborhood. So now Miguel has a deadline: one week to get in a fight. Tick-tock, tick-tock. He keeps this fact a secret from his pals, because he doesn’t want to believe it’s actually happening. Meanwhile, Cass and Srini set up some rules for Miguel: He has to fight someone who deserves it. He can’t throw the first punch. And there’s a behemoth of a kid who’s a million percent off limits. There’s no shortage of jerks out there – the kid who pointed out Miguel’s Air Jordans were fake, the kid who calls him “Bona Lisa” for reasons we won’t get into here, the kid who ratatats racist epithets at school. Miguel dreams of himself as the star of Enter the Dragon and The Matrix, but that’s not reality.

So here’s Miguel’s reality: Fighting ain’t gonna solve any of his problems. In fact, his quest to get into a fight only causes more problems. The truth is, Miguel’s problems, like so many of yours and mine and everyone’s, aren’t going to be solved. They’ll be managed, you’ll acclimate to change, they’ll be assuaged temporarily and replaced by other problems. But Miguel is a teenager with limited life experience, and he believes that moving to Albany is the death knell for his dearest friendships. He doesn’t realize that this isn’t the end, but rather, a problem to be managed with weekend visits and summertime sleepovers and video chats. Don’t cooler heads always prevail?

Working from a screenplay by Shea Serrano and Jason Concepcion — both formerly of The Ringer fame — Rodriguez nourishes a genial, upbeat tone that doesn’t try to be funny, but simply is funny. The core characters are fast and loose with the raunch talk, and it sounds natural rather than forced, like real teenagers goofing – and that’s the heart of the film, how it approaches comedy from slightly skewed angles and taps into warm, relatable emotions. Nothing is taken too seriously or lightly here; it’s just right. Smarter still is how it pushes past its slightly too-long movie homages and a premise that feels a bit like a stretched-out short film (Miguel clocks in at a scant 75 minutes), finding something greater than the sum of its parts, landing on a message that’s neither pat nor heavy-handed: Fighting, or more generally violence, isn’t something to be solved – it’s a reality that must be dealt with more than anything else.

Miguel Wants to Fight 2023 Movie Review