Perez Family, The

Search for a new home also informs Nair's The Perez Family, a movie burdened with an unconvincing ensemble, unable to elevate a serio-comic exploration of Cuban immigrants.

For two decades, Juan Raul Perez (Alfred Molina) has endured hard prison life, dreaming about reuniting in Miami with his wife Carmela (Anjelica Huston) and their daughter. When freedom materializes, Juan jumps on a boat, glancing rhapsodically across a glistening blue ocean that separates him from the promised land.

On the boat, Juan meets Dottie Perez (Marisa Tomei), a spunky, free-spirited prostitute ("I'm like Cuba, used by many, conquered by no one"), who has already absorbed the icons of American pop culture: Rock 'n roll, Elvis Presley, John Wayne.

The immigration authorities erroneously document Juan and Dottie as a married couple as they share the same surname. On the other side of town, Carmela's anticipation to meet her husband turns to disappointment on her mistaken belief that he hasn't made it. The sprawling tale depicts how Juan and Carmela deal with first abandonment, then adjustment to a new way of life.

With half of the cast overacting and the other underacting, The Perez Family was a messy picture with no dramatic core. The tone changes from scene to scene, as does the quality of writing and acting.

Casting a soft gaze, Nair tries to be poignant, but misses the mark: The individual stories don't cohere into something larger and more meaningful. The movie also suffered from unfavorable comparisons with Gregory Nava's similarly-themed but more enjoyable My Family, then in release.