Submitted by Julio M

The film is an intergenerational story about a Mexican-American family and their triumphs, tribulations, joys and tragedies over the course of approximately 50 years, living between Mexico and East Los Angeles, all the while dealing with the relentless, turbulent changes that unfold around them. The third child, Paco (played as an adult by Edward James Olmos, and as a younger man by Benito Martinez), is the voiceover narrator of the story, as well as a prominent character in it.

The eventual fate of the members of the Sanchez family is as follows:

  • Paco grows up to be a writer.
  • Chucho (Esai Morales), the oldest boy and second child, after being on the run from the law for a bit in the wake of a gang-related accidental death he was involved in, ends up being shot and killed by the Police in front of his kid brother Jimmy (played as a boy by Jonathan Hernandez).
  • Irene (played as an older woman by Lupe Ontiveros), the eldest daughter, eventually marries and opens a restaurant where Paco himself is seen working as a waiter.
  • Toni (Constance Marie), the other daughter, announces in her youth she wants to become a nun, only to later give up the habits and marry a former priest, David (Scott Bakula), much to her parents’ shock, confusion, and dismay.
  • Guillermo “Memo” (played as an adult by Enrique Castillo), the second-to-last child, goes on to become a lawyer and “the pride and joy of the family.” However, he finds himself butting heads with his relatives when he brings a fiancée -and her parents- to meet everyone, and an embarrassing incident sours up the moment.
  • Finally, Jimmy (played as an adult by Jimmy Smits), the youngest child and the bearer of the brunt of all the family’s trauma, grows up to be constantly at odds with the law. He reluctantly agrees, at the behest of Toni, to marry a Salvadoran woman, Isabel (Elpidia Carrillo), in order to save her from deportation; at first, he wants nothing to do with her, but eventually, they grow closer, confide their deepest sorrows on each other and end up expecting a child together. Sadly, Isabel dies giving birth to their child Carlitos (Paul Robert Langdon), which enrages and destabilizes Jimmy again, sending him to prison for battery and armed robbery. When he is finally out, he has to fight hard to gain the trust and love of young Carlitos, a mischievous troublemaker who, in turn, hates him because “he is not his real father.” After the incident previously mentioned, where Memo came home with the fiancée and in-laws, and Carlitos suddenly burst into the middle of the gathering, naked and screaming obscenities, leading to an argument between Memo and Jimmy, Jimmy and the boy finally have a heart-to-heart and find a catharsis, which moves Jimmy to change his life for the sake of his son; Carlitos embraces him as his father, and they move away together to Texas.
  • In the end, the aged parents, Maria (played in her youth by Jennifer Lopez, as an elder by Jenny Gago) and Jose (as a younger man by Jacob Vargas, as an elder by Eduardo Lopez Rojas), are seen living by themselves at the family house. They reminisce about their life together and the family they raised.

    The final scene shows Jose standing by the porch, looking at a serene, cloudy sky, while the camera pans away and shows their humble house surrounded by the immensity and ever-transforming panorama of the city of Los Angeles, while Paco is heard in a voiceover saying “I remember MI FAMILIA (My Family)…”.

02 hours 08 minutes