Carlos Avila is a ray of light in an otherwise average community. Selfless to a fault as he strives to make life easier for his friends, family, and even strangers who are seeking redemption after a lifetime of poor decision-making. His best friend Rhonda (Ammy Ontiveros) has a huge heart, but she dreams in circles, never truly deciding to commit to anything. The same could be said for most of the people in Carlos's world. Add in a mother with high hopes, an emotionally troubled cousin whose girlfriend is pregnant, and a grandmother who continually pushes back on the clock while putting herself at risk of injury around the house.
We meet Carlos as the next chapter of his life looms large. After acceptance into an Ivy League school, he will be the first in his family to attend college. But what if he isn't everything his family and friends have built him up to be? Now confronted with feelings of guilt that he is leaving his loved ones to fend for themselves, he leans towards the idea of taking a year off to figure out his options.
From Writer and Director Rick Dominquez comes "Carlos Through the Tall Grass," a charming coming-of-age drama that never takes itself too seriously and yet still manages to deliver an emotional punch. Honestly? It took a couple of scenes for me to get into the film, and I ultimately felt that a better introduction was in order for Carlos as a character. That, however, is a minor criticism as the film gradually finds its rhythm - and before long, it had me fully engaged in the trials and tribulations of the Carlos' exploration.
Even if it can't entirely avoid cliché, it still manages to juggle several sub-plots comfortably throughout the 94-minute
run time. With that written, however, some of the sequences fall flat, and there are too many moments of characters pondering their situations while a song plays in the background with lyrics that speak too close to what the character is feeling. It's overcompensating for something that is already successfully being achieved through the storytelling.
When it's all said and done, there is nothing here that you haven't seen before, but the film wears its heart on its sleeve, leaving an impression that I thought justified the time commitment. "Carlos Through The Tall Grass" offers some great performances and is a solid feel-good film. Three out of five stars.