Picks and Pans Review: Under the Same Moon

updated 03/31/2008 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 03/31/2008 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Adrian Alonso, Kate Del Castillo, Eugenio Derbez, America Ferrera | PG-13 |

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CRITIC'S CHOICE

DRAMA

This moving story about the unbreakable bond between a mother and son is unlikely to make Lou Dobbs's Top 10 list this year. That's because it reduces the CNN anchor's favorite punching bag issue, illegal immigration, into a simple, sweetly told tale of a 9-year-old boy's determination to reunite with his mother. Carlitos (Alonso, a sensational pint-size scene stealer) sets out alone from his rural village in Mexico for L.A., where his mom (Del Castillo) has been working off the books as a housecleaner for six years. While the storytelling in Under the Same Moon is at times manipulative, major characters are so carefully drawn and sensitively acted—and the sentiments so universal—that the film connects powerfully with viewers. Ferrera (Ugly Betty) appears briefly but effectively as an American willing to smuggle Carlitos over the border for pay.

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