Instructions Not Included is the 2013 directorial debut of Eugenio Derbez. While Derbez also stars as the main actor, the film serves as the acting debut of 9-year-old Loreto Peralta who plays his daughter. In a 115 minute bundle of laughs, anger, and tears, Derbez is successful in entertaining his multicultural audience and providing a different take on the father daughter dynamic.
Warning: the following may contain spoilers.
The movie begins by introducing Valentin (Eugenio Derbez) as a crazy, single bachelor in Acapulco. Throughout his journey, he meets Julie. What he does not know though is that Julie gave birth to a daughter. And sooner than later he finds out that he is the father to Maggie – Julie’s daughter.
This turned Valentin’s world upside down – literally. It so much fun to watch how Valentin was forced to change right away and become a more responsible adult. He began to do more stunt work and began getting more money to give Maggie everything she wanted. This includes the loft in which they live in where a fantasy land exists.
The reason Valentin does this though is because he does not want Maggie to know her mother left her when she was just a baby. He worked tremendously hard on keeping the truth hidden from her. He does this by writing letters to her every week pretending that they were actually from her mother — one letter even said that she knew Batman.
Within each letter Valentin writes to her different things, always making sure her mother is not always doing the same thing so Maggie would not question her mother’s absence as much. He also photoshops Julie into different photos to add to the idea of her being out meeting celebrities and protecting the world.
Thinking about this in real life truly makes your heart break. How would you feel as a mother or father having to do this for your child? How would it make you feel knowing you had to lie to your child every single day?
Even with all the hard work Valentin put into preventing Maggie from finding out the truth, she grows to become very uneasy with the reality of not having ever met her mom. This comes after a powerful scene at a carnival where a woman confuses her as her daughter that then makes Maggie think about what would happen if she really was this woman’s daughter.
Peralta (Maggie) does a great job at conveying such raw emotion. It so easy to see her heart break right after this scene. This scene really emphasizes the gap Maggie must feel by not having a mother, also bringing out more reasons why Valentin is very important to her.
He will literally do anything for her. This passion and love is greatly seen when Valentin goes out of his way to hold an open call for an actress to pretend to be Maggie’s mother. He was determined to find the perfect actress that most resembled Julie. While that proves to be unsuccessful, Valentin soon after receives a call from Julie out the blue letting him know that she was going to go “see her daughter.”
This however, ends up in Julie wanted to take Maggie back to New York with her and her girlfriend, but Maggie does not want to go. After being raised by Valentin all her life, Maggie does not how to live life having a mother even after she longed one for so long.
While this is where the movie takes a twist that you will not see coming the film, it nevertheless does a fabulous job in capturing the relationship between a man and his daughter. It truly shows you how much a father will do for his daughter just to keep her safe and be able to have her taken care of.
The film’s story line is also one that is not really seen a lot, which makes the film a bit more special.
But I have already told you too much. What happens next in the movie will make your heart ache – be warned. As emotional as it is though, you will be satisfied with this conclusion and the movie as a whole.
My rating for the movie is: A-
Instructions Not Included is available via DVD, Blu-Ray, and Netflix.