Angelino grandson, a workaholic who toils in finance, is told “Let’s go for a drive” by his grandpa, who takes him out to the desert. He speaks of Old Mexico, or at least the Mexico he left to emigrate to the United States. The kid may speak Spanish and be close with his large extended family. But he doesn’t know his roots.
Grandpa mentions a couple of places in Mexico City that he remembers fondly, and gives the kid an order.
“Go back and take a look,” he says. And then, he dies.
That’s the launching point of “Tell me When (Dime Cuándo Tú),” a tepid romantic comedy built around a bucket list that Grandpa Pepe (screen veteran José Carlos Ruiz) kept in his diary. Grandson “Will,” who needs to go by Guillermo (Jesús Zavala) or “Guillermito” when he’s with family, will leave his seven day a week job and follow that list as he is forced to “experience” the things in life he’s missed.
“Get drunk on mezcal.” “Sing with mariarchis.” Visit the Fine Arts Palace, see the Main Square, the Blue House and the Satellite Towers.
You’ll stay with Danielle (Ximena Romo) his grandma and her friend Luci, Danielle’s granny, dell him. She’s show him around.
Guess what else is on Grandpa’s list?
There are little chuckles around the edges of this limp noodle of a comedy, and just a hint of romance to it. It should be bubbling over with both.
I only laughed at the crude and profane advice naive Will gets from older relatives back home and the daft attempts of Dani’s relatives in Mexico City — the gay restaurateur Beto (Gabriel Nuncio) included.
The leads are cute, but don’t have much chemistry, with Zavala especially coming off more dull and charmless than the role requires.
Ideas such as the bucket list, grandpa’s fondness for capturing memories on Polaroids and the like are introduced and forgotten as the no-heat-here romance takes center stage. A weaker plot point, Danielle getting her big “break” as understudy when the leading lady (real stage actors and directors plays themselves), is played-up, to little effect.
Veteran producer and first-time director Gerardo Gatica González even shortchanges what should be the movie’s no-brainer subtext, the sights of Mexico City.
Without that, “Tell ME When” doesn’t even work as travelogue.
MPA Rating: TV-MA, alcohol abuse, profanity
Cast: Jesús Zavala, Ximena Romo, Gabriel Nuncio, Juca Viapri, Verónica Castro, José Carlos Ruiz
Credits: A Netflix release.
Running time: 1:37