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Movie review: 'Immigration Tango'

February 17, 2011|By Kevin Thomas
  • Carlos Leon plays Carlos Sanchez in "Immigration Tango."
Carlos Leon plays Carlos Sanchez in "Immigration Tango." (Roadside Attractions )

In writer-director David Burton Morris' inept "Immigration Tango," set in sunny Miami Beach, two couples switch partners to avoid an imminent deportation. It might have been a premise for an effective romantic comedy that pointed up the plight of undocumented immigrants, but Morris and his co-writers aren't up to the task.

Elika Portnoy plays Elena, a Russian whose visa is about to run out; her Colombian lover Carlos (Carlos Leon) is facing a similar problem. So Mike (McCaleb Burnett), the fiancé of Elena's best friend, Betty (Ashley Wolfe), agrees to marry her in order for her to be able to remain in the country.

The four principals are attractive and capable, and their characters are drawn with verve and definition. Carlos is a live wire, a chef who dreams of owning his own restaurant. Betty is an ambitious law student with a forceful personality that doesn't exactly mesh with the gentle-natured Mike, an English literature grad student who seems to have been stretching out the completion of his dissertation for years. Elena does appreciate Mike's love of poetry.

Unfortunately, Morris sends the quartet to visit Mike's wealthy parents, who are such crass bigots they are impossible to find amusing, and the film fails to gain any momentum. Eventually, "Immigration Tango" throws away what little credibility it has in going for a finish of total improbability and silliness.

"Immigration Tango." MPAA rating: R for language and some sexual content. Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes. Playing at Laemmle's Monica 4-Plex, Santa Monica; AMC Burbank Town Center 8, Burbank; AMC 30 at the Block, Orange.

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