American Me (1992) Review

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Queer Eye for the Prison Guy

Oh boy first let me copy my disclosure from 1990 The Bronx Warriors.

First a note: This review for 1990 The Bronx Warriors was first published on March 6th, 2005. It contains language that fourteen years later can read as insensitive and homophobic. I have chosen not to heavily edit the piece as I feel it would be dishonest and also if you have seen 1990 The Bronx Warriors you might agree the observations are spot on, homophobic or otherwise.

Okay, so change March 6th, 2005 to March 9th, 2005 (Really three days later? What the hell was going on the first week of March 2005 to cause me to write two homophobic reviews in a row.) And change the name of the film to American Me.

Now I am upfront about disliking most men in prison movies. (Not all by any means as my recent review of A Prayer Before Dawn will attest to.) It isn’t so much the invariable man on man rape scene that all these films have to put in, as if checking off the trope box it is the way they often paint these prisoners as noble warriors fighting the man. Few films will paint these gents as the losers they so often are. Anyway, off to the review.

American Me (1992) : 3 out of 10: In all fairness, I have to admit I was expecting more of a gang picture (albeit a serious one) with Mexican overtones rather than a straightforward prison drama. 

American Me is a straightforward prison drama. 

Nobody in this film emotes and pass the K-Y jelly cause there is more guy on guy action in this movie than in the men’s room at a Sex in the City wrap party. Add in the bathroom/drug smuggling scenes and you may squirm in your seat for more reasons than a slow pace. 

In addition, a lot of older actors can play characters in their twenties. Even those that have obvious hairline issues (see the later Porky’s movies) seem to pull it off. Edward James Olmos is one man who should never even try. He looks like he was born fifty. He also plays the lead with the charisma of a sullen rock. 

Besides the miscasting and sodomy American Me suffers from serious script issues. It takes at face value the characters contention that they are king of the world. They are not. It is one thing for the characters themselves to be misguided (as they are) but the movie itself seems not to realize what big losers these guys are. Sure they are king of the cellblock. Hurrah, that’s like being voted carny of the month. 

A good first 45 minutes quickly melts into underacted pathos (Nobody emotes in this movie, cause they are all tough guys see.) and misguided plot twists (the whole taking on the mob bit was horribly done). The movie just keeps getting worse and worse.

Oh, and Olmos’s character writes poetry. Terrible rhyming poetry. Yup, poetry and anal sex, American Me is one makeover away from its own Bravo series.

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