The movie and the boys’ makeshift robot are unsophisticated creatures, but get the job done.

by Kristina Aiad-Toss

Throughout the history of the cinema, the underdog story has been excessively overused and astonishingly predictable, but somehow is an extremely persistent subject that never stops to touching the hearts of viewers. The film Spare Parts contains all the familiarities of this movie style, but goes beyond the norm in its ability to portray the theme with sincerity and investment in each characters. Here, four Hispanic students and their teacher Fredi (George Lopez) form a robotics club at their school, and face the countries robotics champion, MIT. Spare Parts not only highlights the challenges and adversity the robotics team faces with strong intensity, but also correctly creates each character with a unique voice.

Through the screenplay, the characters successfully show their struggles, while also appearing determined and focused on the robotics club. The depth of character development in this film, as the audience is emotionally invested and interested until the very end. The student’s mentor, Fredi, played by George Lopez, drives the emotional appeal and underlying positivity in Spare Parts, even though he was not the best choice for the role. Lopez’s inflection and emotional intensity is lacking and rarely changes, leading the delivery to lack any variety. The four young actors playing the competitors portrayed their two-dimensional roles to the best of their ability.

Spare Parts
Directed by
Sean McNamara
George Lopez, Jamie Lee Curtis, Carlos PenaVega
Release Date
16 January 2015
Kristina’s Grade: B-

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Finally, Jamie Lee Curtis as the eccentric Principal is the most comedic character in the film, but is also a source of great distraction. Curtis makes the most of the script she is given, divulging deeply into her character and showcasing the humorous aspects brilliantly. However, every scene with her character possesses a noticeable tonal deviation from the rest of the film and diverts the audience’s attention from the storyline.

Although many of the moments in the movie are extremely touching, some of the scenes come across unnaturally. The instances when Dr. Cameron tries to connect and help the young boys are inspirational, but feel awkward and forced due to scattered pacing and out of place tone. Even though a few scenes appear forced and disproportionate, their presence is essential in order to tell the story accurately and with sufficient depth. Religiously following the unspoken guidelines of an underdog story, Spare Parts is extremely predictable and anyone capable of conscious thought can figure out the ending. However, despite the story’s typical nature, it is still a heartwarming, and somewhat cheesy, story about a group of people who often face oppression—undocumented immigrants.

The film succeeds at portraying the theme it aims for: A group of Mexican-American teens who face seemingly impossible odds, but manage to accomplish their goals with fewer opportunities than their competition. Inspiring for audiences of all ages and backgrounds, Spare Parts is an effective, moving film with a powerful message that provides a underlying plea for immigration reform. Whether audiences see the film as a humanitarian efforts or a simple inspirational tale, Spare Parts may lack refinements in many respects, but it successfully delivers the story and thrives as a conventional yet motivational film.