“Pulling Strings” takes a bit of a hit by being the third Latin single-dad comedy to roll into American theaters in a month. And though it is funnier and out-charms “Tio Papi,” it lacks the whimsy, magical realism and kid-friendly sentiment of the sleeper hit, “Instructions Not Included.”
But this tale of a mariachi singer denied a visa, who then tries to trick and charm the American embassy staffer who turned him down, is a winning vehicle for singer and actor Jaime Camil.
Alejandro (Camil) is raising his 9-year-old daughter alone, and he fears that what the nuns are telling him is true — that he's botching the job. She needs to go spend time with her grandparents. In Arizona.
Having no property, permanent address or passport, he gets little more than the no-eye-contact dismissal from U.S. Embassy functionary Rachel (Laura Ramsey of “No One Lives” and “Kill the Irishman”). Rachel's mind is on a transfer to the London embassy.
But as coincidence would have it, her colleagues hire Alex's superb mariachi band for her party. He winds up taking her home, in only the most gallant sense. He hides her top-secret laptop computer as leverage for a days-long “search” that he figures will win her over and get his daughter the visa.
“Pulling Strings” scores sentimental romantic points about the difference between “meeting lots of people” and actually getting to know them, and the simple idea that whatever shortcomings a musician single father has, a child belongs with her dad.
Roger Moore, MCT Information Services