By the year 1980 Juan Raul Perez (Molina) has been a political prisoner in Castro's Cuba for more than twenty years; his wife Carmela (Houston) and young daughter Teresa (Alvarado) having fled to Florida. When the Mariel boatlift frees more than 50,000 of Castro's unwanted criminals, mentally ill, aged, and ailing citizens; an eclectic group of Cuban refugees arrives in Key West. Juan meets a young sugar cane field worker named Dorita “Dottie” Evita Perez (Tomei) who is infatuated with John Wayne. They learn that to be released in the US they must get a job and a sponsor or remain at the internment camp set up at the Orange Bowl in Miami. Dottie spent time as a prostitute in Cuba and will do anything to gain her freedom.
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Carmela and Teresa anxiously await news of Juan's arrival but hear nothing. Her brother Angel (Wallraff), obsessed with home security for the women, installs alarms, gives them a handgun, and purchases an attack dog. Each time the alarm is set off Miami Police Officer Rhoades (Cleghorne) and Special Agent Pirelli (Palminteri) arrive to the Coral Gables house. Carmela is attracted to Agent Pirelli and begins dating him. Dottie is determined to create a family in order to move up the waiting list for sponsorship. As Juan's efforts to make contact with his estranged wife fail, he is persuaded to pose as Dottie's husband along with a young boy named Felipe from the streets of Miami and a crazy old man who strips naked then climbs trees and light poles.
As the Perez family they are sponsored by a monastery and sell flowers on the streets of Miami. Dottie falls in love with her fictitious husband, but is devastated to learn that Felipe's been killed by a criminal lowlife named Orlando (Gallo). Angel openly prevents Juan from reuniting with Carmela.
The review of this Movie prepared by David Fletcher