For, Friday, May 8, 2015

George Lopez stars in “Spare Parts” (PG-13), a true underdog story about a group of illegal-alien Mexican kids at an Arizona high school that toppled MIT in an underwater robotics competition. The title refers to the use of automobile spare parts to build their robot.

That description gives away the ending, of course, but if they had just entered a competition and failed, would anyone have made a movie about it?

And if you haven’t heard of this film, you’re forgiven, since it received no publicity to speak of and played in theaters only a week or two. But it’s the kind of film that word-of-mouth might have made a hit a couple of decades ago.

Now it’s on DVD and well-worth renting or buying.


George Lopez, far left, and the boys purchasing 'Spare Parts.'

Mixing comedy with serious drama, the film tells the story of Lopez’s character, a substitute teacher at the school who has taken the job simply as a stopgap after being laid off as an engineer. He hopes to land another high-paying job and plans to depart quickly when that happens.

But it also delves into the lives of the troubled teens he organizes for an after-school robotics club, and there are parallels with the Kevin Costner film “Macfarland, USA,” though in this one Lopez’s Hispanic roots help him reach the kids.


“Spare Parts” is an independent film with no less than five credited production companies (along with Lionsgate as a distributor) with the potential to be a breakout film, but critics were not kind, seeing it as formulaic and overly familiar.

That may be true, but I was touched by it and found it hugely entertaining. A strong recommendation from this corner.