“Girl in Progress” Movie Review
Our take on the relatable mom vs. teen daughter dramady Girl in Progress.
By: Lynn Barker
Maybe you or a pal have this problem: single mom acts like she’s a partying teen and young daughter or son has to be the “adult” in the family. Watching mom forget to buy food and date unavailable guys while you clean up after her and basically raise yourself isn’t all that awesome….even if mom is working several jobs to keep you in a private school.
Fitting in in Seattle
Pretty young teen Ansiedad (Anxiety in Spanish) is used to moving to new towns with her single mom Grace (Eva Mendes) who works several jobs, picks the wrong guys and never even starts to live her own dream. Landing in Seattle, Ansiedad (Cierra Ramirez) is a good but occasionally rebellious student who only has one friend Tavita (Raini Rodriguez), a plump, pretty and sweet misfit.
Taking Care of Mom
When mom parties hearty with her married boyfriend and collapses, fully dressed into her bed, it’s Ansiedad who lovingly tucks her in and does the chores and her homework with mom’s deafening salsa music blaring in her ears. Mom’s never really there to celebrate her daughter’s good grades or listen to her problems.
When Ansiedad’s kindly English teacher (Patricia Arquette) talks about teen coming-of-age stories and “rites of passage”, smart Ansiedad deconstructs them into steps and decides to become “Ann”, skip the boring stuff, leave childhood behind and quickly morph herself into a tough mean girl with hot lover boyfriend. Then, she’ll be ready to leave town and mom on the first bus out! Necessary step, find a go-all-the-way guy and go for a party hook up.
Hurting your Bestie
Turning hot, mean girl means dumping your less hot BFF so “Ann” fake dumps Tavita in front of her new sleaze queen pals. Trouble is, Tavita takes it seriously and spirals downward. “Ann”’s hook up plan doesn’t actually work but the jerk guy lies and tells everyone he “tapped that”.
Anguished and friendless, Ansiedad runs home to cry on mom’s shoulder but Gloria has been too busy trying to pay the bills, keep her married boyfriend and date a guy at work to be around to listen. When both mom and daughter’s plans fall apart, both finally learn that to really grow up, you need to act your age.
Girl in Progress is a good film to see with your pals or just you and your mom. Although the plot of “good” girl trying to turn “bad” to tick off or escape parents is nothing new, Eva Mendes and Cierra Ramirez do very credible jobs as the irresponsible mom and smart, rebellious daughter. The film gets snaps for adding a mom who can’t grow up to the usual teen angst story.
Mom and daughter come full circle by movie’s end and both have made progress in living in the now and taking blame for hurting others. You’ll probably identify either with Ansiedad’s frustration or her friend Tavita’s desire to change to keep her BFF. I’d say you’ll “get” the film better if you are age 12 and up. Although certainly not perfect, the movie has its funny, powerful and relatable moments.
Girls in Progress: