A Day Without a Mexican
Directed by Sergio Arau, 2004
Staring Maureen Flannigan, John Getz, Eduardo Palomo, Caroline Aaron and Yareli Arizmendi
A strange purple fog engulfs the State of California cutting off all electronic communication between California and the rest of the world. Television, radio, e-mail and websites (whose servers are located within California) within the state remain operational. Ground, air and sea transportation within the state are operational but, not knowing the effects of the fog, people are afraid to pass through the fog to enter or leave the state. California becomes an island lacking any contact with the world beyond the state line. Worse still, the fog causes all people of Hispanic descent to vanish. Native born, citizens and non-citizens as well as legal and illegal immigrants of Hispanic descent suddenly disappear.
The sudden disappearance of such a large segment of the population results in massive disruption causing the non-Hispanic population to suddenly realize how critical this segment of the population is to the state's well being. With the governor and lieutenant governor both out of state on official business when the crisis strikes, State Senate Leader Ambercrombie (John Getz), a man who has built his political career exploiting anti-Hispanic sentiment, becomes the temporary governor. Feeling the impact both politically and personally (despite his prejudice against Hispanics, he relies on a Mexican maid and Hispanic laborers to perform the day to day labor of maintaining his home), Ambercrombie does an about face and strives to find a way to get the vanished citizens back.
This is a comedy spoof with a message. There is a huge economic loss resulting from the disappearance of such a large portion of the population. Those lost are not just common laborers, they are people who make up significant numbers of all positions in the economy. All sectors of the economy face serious disruption and even the Border Patrol discovers that its ranks have been thinned by the loss of Hispanic officers and the remaining Anglo officers suddenly realize that, without a steady inflow of illegal immigrants, their jobs are no longer necessary. People also come to realize that, just as the stereotype of all Hispanics being manual laborers is not true, the stereotype of all Hispanics being Mexicans is also not true. Mexicans are but one group that represent just a portion of the Spanish speaking immigrants from all over Latin America. Also, just as all Hispanics are not Mexican, they are also not all recent immigrants as many who disappeared were second, third or greater generation Americans of Hispanic descent.
The final question the audience is faced with is what constitutes an Hispanic? When all the Hispanics disappear, one Hispanic journalist, Lila Rodriquez (Yareli Arizmendi) remains during most of the crisis and then suddenly disappears. Her surviving the initial disappearance followed by her later disappearance illustrates the absurdity of ethnic stereotypes.
The review of this Movie prepared by Chuck Nugent