Perez Family, The

Twenty years ago, Juan Raoul Perez was sent to prison in Havana, Cuba, for burning his sugar cane fields rather than turning them over to Fidel Castro. Now Castro has signed an agreement with President Jimmy Carter for Cuban prisoners to seek political asylum in America. Among the prisoners released is Juan Raoul Perez, whose wife, Carmela, and daughter, Teresa, have been in Coral Gables, Florida since his unfortunate incarceration. As much as Juan looks forward to seeing his family, he is very nervous that they won't want him anymore. After all, it has been 20 years. After Juan's release, he meets Dorita Perez, a feisty young woman who is determined to get to America and marry John Wayne. Even though they have the same last name, Juan and Dorita are not related.

When they reach America, the refugees are detained in the Orange Bowl until they can obtain a sponsor. The first on the list of the refugees who need sponsors are families of four or more. Next are the families with three or more, and so on. Last on the list are single people, as it is difficult to find sponsors for just one person, especially when there are so many families that need asylum. Dorita decides that she and Juan should claim to be married, which is one step further in obtaining a sponsor. Juan disagrees because he is certain that his wife and daughter will be there to meet him. While Juan wanders around, Dorita speaks to an INS official and reports that she and Juan are married. Along the way, Dorita runs into a little boy named Phillipe, who has no family. She talks him into posing as Dorita's and Juan's son. An old man who finds it difficult to keep his clothes on then becomes Juan's ancient father. Together, this "family" becomes eligible for a sponsor, which happens right away. This is only the beginning of a wonderfully poignant story of the Perez Family.

Twenty years ago, Juan Raoul Perez was sent to prison in Havana, Cuba, for burning his sugar cane fields rather than turning them over to Fidel Castro. Now Castro has signed an agreement with President Jimmy Carter for Cuban prisoners to seek political asylum in America. Among the prisoners released is Juan Raoul Perez, whose wife, Carmela, and daughter, Teresa, have been in Coral Gables, Florida since his unfortunate incarceration. As much as Juan looks forward to seeing his family, he is very nervous that they won't want him anymore. After all, it has been 20 years. After Juan's release, he meets Dorita Perez, a feisty young woman who is determined to get to America and marry John Wayne. Even though they have the same last name, Juan and Dorita are not related. When they reach America, the refugees are detained in the Orange Bowl until they can obtain a sponsor. The first on the list of the refugees who need sponsors are families of four or more. Next are the families with three or more, and so on. Last on the list are single people, as it is difficult to find sponsors for just one person, especially when there are so many families that need asylum. Dorita decides that she and Juan should claim to be married, which is one step further in obtaining a sponsor. Juan disagrees because he is certain that his wife and daughter will be there to meet him. While Juan wanders around, Dorita speaks to an INS official and reports that she and Juan are married. Along the way, Dorita runs into a little boy named Phillipe, who has no family. She talks him into posing as Dorita's and Juan's son. An old man who finds it difficult to keep his clothes on then becomes Juan's ancient father. Together, this "family" becomes eligible for a sponsor, which happens right away. This is only the beginning of a wonderfully poignant story of the Perez Family.

  • Starring: Marisa Tomei, Alfred Molina, Angelica Houston and Chaz Palminteri
  • Director(s): Mira Nair
  • Producer(s): Perez Productions, Ltd.
  • Screenwriter(s): Robin Swicord
  • Distributor: Samuel Goldwyn Films
  • Release Date: Thursday, March 23, 1995
  • Rating: Believed Acceptable

Featured Animal Action

Animal action is minimal. In a scene in the beginning of the movie, Juan is standing in the ocean when a crab washes up on his foot. In another scene, a bird walks A to B in a sugar cane field. When Juan is first let out of the Orange Bowl, he sets out to Coral Gables to visit Carmela. A dog follows him down the street. After Juan reaches Carmela's house, he attempts to open the front door. At that point, an alarm goes off, and a Doberman begins growling and barking. Off camera, the trainer held the dog on a loose chain, and used a speak command for the dog to start barking. A tennis ball which is the dog's favorite toy, was given to him as a reward.