What begins as an exploration of the raunchy teenage male mind, Y tu Mama Tambien soon blossoms into a thematically rich film. Although the portrayal of male sexuality is vulgar, there is also an element of innocence about the boys’ path to self-discovery. The journey taken along the back roads of Mexico with Luisa is not only a literal journey, but allegorical as well.
At first, the implication is that the youths require the mentoring provided by their adult companion, but upon discovering Luisa’s terminal illness at the end of the film, it is obvious she needed the boys in order to learn a valuable lesson as well. Symbiotically, the boys and Luisa aid in each others transformations of growth. Whereas she willingly acts as their vessel which facilitates their passage into manhood, they in turn allow her to live the life of freedom she has always desired.
Throughout the film, the innocence of youth is held in stark contrast to the complexity of adulthood. Although the boys and Luisa are both struggling with the infidelity of their loved ones, both parties handle each indiscretion very differently. One scene in particular demonstrates the polar differences between the boys’ ability to cope with this issue as opposed to how Luisa does. Upon calling her husband for the last time in order to bid him farewell, the shot is purposely set up to include the boys on the other half of the screen as they play pool. The obvious implication is their ability to move past their problems with one another despite their mutual betrayal and revert back to innocent childhood games. Meanwhile, on the other half of the screen Luisa has a much harder time dealing with the explanation of the abandonment of her husband. She ends the phone call in tears with so much left unsaid and instead leaves him with a cryptic message stating that he would one day soon understand why she left. Whereas the boys merely needed a catharsis for the pain of their mutual betrayal in order to move forward, Luisa isn’t able to speak freely and is left in tears and self-anguish after hanging up the phone.
Upon reaching the sea their lives are forever changed as they all find a bit of themselves which they had been knowingly or unknowingly searching for. The sea, synonymous with freedom, mystery and vastness acts as the catalyst for their final transformations regardless of how it affects their lives thereafter. It is the zenith of their individual journeys which forces them to each walk their own respective paths from thereon after. Whereas Luisa had adult responsibilities to concern herself with in the past, she cleanses herself of her cares in the ocean and reverts back to childhood innocence as she enjoys her last days on the tranquil shores of Mexico. The boys, however, grow into adulthood as they lose their innocence of the friendship they once shared and discover more about themselves than they may have hoped for.
Hilarious, artistic and moving, Y tu Mama Tambien provides an introspective look into the lives of genuine characters which gives pause for reflection of our own roads toward the possibility of meaningful self-discovery.