Cesar & Max

Between getting into trouble at school and his disconnected relationship with his mother, Cesar, a Mexican American teenager feels out of place in this world. After getting expelled from school thanks to his delinquent, privileged best friend, Max, the two take off on a wild trip to Mexico in search of Cesar's father who he has never met.

Cesar and Max, both 17, are best friends from different sides of the tracks who rebel against their parents and school’s expectations. Cesar’s mom, Esperanza, is an illegal Mexican immigrant housekeeper who won’t talk about his absentee father. Max’s father, Richard, is a high-powered Jewish attorney who is leaving Max’s mom.

Cesar and Max raid Richard’s pot stash and get busted when caught with a marijuana pipe at school. They are expelled and social services begins looking into Cesar’s home life. When presented with the probability of being put into a group home, Cesar decides to go to Mexico to track down his father. He asks Max to go along, but Max would rather remain “enabled” in his cushy middle-class Los Angeles home.

Upset by his parent's constant arguing, Max has a change of heart and joins Cesar on his road trip. The two cross the border and end up in the seedier part of Tijuana. Max gets more than he asks for when the boys hook up with ficheras (drink companions) in a dance hall and then find Fat John being spanked by a puta in their hotel room. Max wants out, but circumstances push him and Cesar onward. After some eventful bus rides, Max again decides he wants to go home and barely escapes a kidnapping attempt, but the kidnappers have his ID so they fax a ransom demand to his parents.

Panicked, Richard finds Esperanza and convinces her to drive into Mexico with him to find their sons. Meanwhile, Max reconnects with Cesar at a small village baseball game. They befriend a young woman and her family who direct them to find El Sabio, “the wise one” who can help the boys find Cesar’s dad. El Sabio sends the boys away and Cesar is ready to give up, but then he realizes that El Sabio is his dad. Cesar confronts El Sabio who confesses to a history of mental illness, but now medicated, is filled with regret and sadness for the loss of his family. They start a long overdue father/son relationship.

When Richard and Esperanza arrive in the town, Richard gets arrested by the Federales for speeding. Esperanza finds the boys at El Sabio’s shack and rekindles her affection for him. She stays in Mexico with him while Cesar and Max return with Richard to the States and bravely face the consequences of their expulsion.

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Contest Results:
Table Read (Finalist, Top 10) [2022]
Screenplay Festival (Finalist) [2021]
Wiki Contest (Finalist, March 2021 Competition) [2021]
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