Director: Jonas Cuaron | Script: Joe Barnathan, Sean Kennedy Moore, Marcus Rinehart | Cast: Evan Whitten (Alex), Christian Slater (Richard Quinn), Demian Bichir (Grandpa), Ashley Ciarra (Moon), Nickolas Executioner (Memo), ea | Time to play: 98 minutes | Year: 2023
In the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, there were a lot of family movies with plots that didn’t really make sense. But that realization didn’t come until later, because during the movie everything was so entertaining and apparently logical that it was taken for the truth. Not feeding the Gremlins after midnight or later? It’s ok, but from what time is it allowed again? Bottle It also has these kinds of flaws, but the movie is not entertaining enough and the flaws are so big that they are immediately noticeable.
Alex is sent by his mother with his grandfather in Mexico for spring break in 1996. There he also meets his cousins who are the same age. At that time there were also reports in the news of unexplained attacks on goats, something that, according to Mexican myths, is reminiscent of the chupacabra monster, a kind of vampire for goats. But the animal turns out to be real, and Alex finds a baby chupacabra hiding on the Mexican farm. And he has to keep it out of reach of the scientist, who is eager to capture it for research.
Bottle it was widely advertised with the phrase ‘from the creators of Harry Potter’. By this they mean Chris Columbus, the author of, among others the goonies in gremlinsand director of Home alone and in fact the first two Harry Potterfilms. Here he acts as a producer, making the final result incomprehensible. Bottle It’s supposed to be one of those typical family adventure movies, but it’s an amateurish mess.
The first mistake is that the chupacabra is shown right at the beginning of the movie. No mystery, no suspense. For some inexplicable reason, it all takes place in the 1990s. The only explanation is that this was done out of the filmmakers’ nostalgia for their own youth, when they grew up with these kinds of movies.
The premise of Alex’s story is also very bad: there is only one kid in his school who bullies him a bit and makes racist comments, so all the kids in the school are mean and discriminatory. According to his mother, luck will be in Mexico for the next week, where his three relatives will give him the warmth he needs. Once in Mexico, he is constantly harassed by his cousins and his grandfather, as an American, thinks he is just a coward. But this is his family, so apparently everything is fine now.
Bottle it also contains some useful tips for parents. Fireworks can be launched from your hand, and sometimes a fight is a great solution. When Alex points out that he didn’t expect her niece to listen to The Beastie Boys, she sarcastically responds that not all Mexicans only play mariachi music. However, it is precisely in the next scene where mariachi music immediately plays.
Bottle it takes familiar charming moments from the movies and weakly copies them. Sing along in the car, just a raw punk song that in no way exudes a cozy or familiar feeling. Alex and Chupa share a bonding moment howling like wolves together, but it happens with the bad guy hot on their heels and this is a dangerous waste of time.
With Chupa itself, the creators couldn’t make up their minds either. In appearance it resembles an otter, but with wings and sharp claws. In terms of behavior, he’s like a cat one moment, a dog the next. And once the animal seems to have no idea what is being said, the other time Chupa seems to be able to understand a word of English. He, or she, looks extremely cute, but never becomes the soulful character that he or she should be.
And Chupa is mostly absent. It largely revolves around Alex and his family. The entire family seems to have the IQ of a bean at various times. They hang around chatting until someone spots a sick goat, and the beast turns out to be several feet away in full view of them. When Chupa is kidnapped, they are a bit of a fool. When Chupa gets stun shot, they stand and watch instead of overpowering the bad guy.
Bottle is sometimes as fond as the Dutchman Uncle Ferdinand and the magic potion. But that didn’t stop me from finding a good movie as a kid, and families will enjoy this Netflix movie too. It never reaches the level of a typical iconic and memorable adventure movie, but young viewers will no doubt look back on it thirty years from now with a nostalgic feeling.
Bottle can be seen in Netflix.