This family drama explores the car culture of East Los Angeles. Rating: 2 stars out of 4.

Share story

The family drama “Lowriders,” starring Demián Bichir and Eva Longoria, explores the car culture of East Los Angeles, delving into the roots of lowriding. Though the tricked out, bouncing vintage cars are a staple of ’90s rap videos, “Lowriders,” directed by Ricardo de Montreuil, situates these iconic vehicles within a historical context while telling a family story of grief, loss and redemption.

Our hero is Danny (Gabriel Chavarria), a young man from Boyle Heights in East LA. He’s a street artist who has a tough relationship with his father (Bichir) and is reckoning with the return of his brother (Theo Rossi) upon his release from prison.

Movie Review ★★  

‘Lowriders,’ with Gabriel Chavarria, Demián Bichir, Eva Longoria, Theo Rossi. Directed by Ricardo de Montreuil, from a screenplay by Cheo Hodari Coker and Elgin James. 99 minutes. Rated PG-13 for language, some violence, sensuality, thematic elements and brief drug use. Several theaters.

While “Lowriders” follows some traditional family-drama blueprints and formulas, where it excels is in its depiction of the Los Angeles of 2017. As Danny describes in an early scene, LA is his playground, and he doesn’t feel limited by the borders of his hood, his ethnicity or his crew.

This freedom to explore his identity and interests isn’t necessarily one that was afforded to his father or even his brother. The older men locate their sense of self in the predominantly Latino car culture, in their communities and in their ethnic identity. As Danny says in narration, lowriding was once outlawed, so Latino car clubs learned to use hydraulics to lift and lower their vehicles. The cars became outlets for creative self-expression, and the competitions a point of pride.

While “Lowriders” offers an interesting entree into this world, it’s unfortunately too formulaic and predictable to leave much of an impact. The trio of lead performances is strong, but the standard-issue story and themes are routine at best.