Dave's Rating:


… resembles Saving Private Ryan's first 20 minutes.

Who's in It: Leonor Varela, Carlos Padilla Leñero

What's the Deal? In the 1980s, while you were busy watching Thundercats, a brutal civil war was raging in El Salvador between the corrupt right-wing government and left-wing peasant rebels. Boys, at age 12, were drafted by the government and taught to kill. This gut-wrencher is the true story of screenwriter Oscar Torre's horrifying childhood in that war zone and his eventual illegal escape to the United States. So, yeah, it's heavy.

Blockbuster It Most Resembles: Saving Private Ryan's first 20 minutes. Now imagine it with kids.

Percentage of the Film You'll Spend Recoiling in Fear as Small Children Dodge Machine-Gun Fire: 50

Kids-in-Wartime Clichés Averted: There's a middle-schoolers-in-love subplot that leavens the story just a bit. Otherwise this is a deadly serious lesson in anti-cute.

Vaguely Familiar Face Alert: Leonor Varela stars as the weary, frightened single mother of three who'll do whatever it takes to save her 11-year-old son from the draft. If you saw the 1999 TV movie version of Cleopatra, that was her, too.

Ronald Reagan Fun Fact: The United States sent American military advisors to help El Salvador's army.

Why You'll Want to Join Amnesty International: The credits crawl delivers the shocking statistic that more than 300,000 children presently serve in armies in more than 40 countries.


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