The clash of maternal and teen angst, Hispanic style, is again brought to the screen in an unflattering attempt to promote mother/daughter bonding this Mother's Day weekend presumably inspired by more provocative examples of the genre which have starred Evan Rachel Wood and Jason Schwartzmann.
Girl In Progress stars Eva Mendes (The Other Guys) and Cierra Ramirez and is set in Seattle (though of course filmed in Vancouver) where Mendes's Grace comes across as a bit frumpy rather than the fiery independent actress many of her fans are accustoming to watching.
Grace is a non-devoted, yet busy single mom, philandering with and cleaning for the very married gynecologist Dr. Harford, another throwaway part for Matthew Modine when she's not waitressing at Emilio's Clam Shack. So, her overworked, neglected daughter Ansiedad (Ramirez) decides to energize her existence through a high-school lesson with rites-of-passage literature herself.
After a cannily cast Think Like A Man which relied heavily on the stereotypes of relationships in Steve Harvey's self-help book, this melodramatic exercise tries to coast by through the notion of sliding by adolescence . It relies on the trials and tribulations of Ansiedad and Grace (of themselves and each other), one getting the help of her trusting, yet overweight friend Tavita (Raini Rodriguez), and the other being preoccupied with the affections of a coworker (Eugenio Derbez).
As directed by Patricia Riggen (who made the admirable Under The Same Moon) and penned by Dominican Republic native Hiram Martinez there isn't any immediacy or feel for local ethnic mores, its joys and strife, in stark contrast last year's A Better Life. So, the alternating aspect to the overdone narrative can't build on its intriguing anthropological rough edges, leading to an inauthentic, maudlin blueprint to what could have been a more telling shortcut for its leading character whose name translates as anxiety.
If Mendes and Ramirez have a way through their characters that may delight the intended audience for a while, they're just juggled into the derivative pretensions of the material. Patricia Arquette is unwisely brushed off for the most part as English instructor Ms. Armstrong, while Rodriquez and Derbez have the opportunity to amuse with what little the script offers. This "Girl" may come of age through valuable lessons in life, but never shows progress in meandering to give its characters (and audience) what they truly deserve.