• by Wes Singleton

Lowriders, C+

Rated PG-13, 99 minutes

Unsurprisingly, the best moments in the sluggish but well-acted new drama "Lowriders" have to do with the colorful, customized vehicles that gives the film its title. The film follows the trials and tribulations of a lower middle-class Hispanic family in Los Angeles, and while it certainly has some grit, it offers few surprises in its familiar themes of family, love and loyalty.

A teenage graffiti artist (Gabriel Chavarria) paints murals on the hoods of lowrider cars to help his older, ex-convict brother (Theo Rossi) win an upcoming competition, all the while dealing with their stern father (Demian Bichir), who has trouble connecting with his sons.

Directed by Ricardo de Montreuil and co-written by Elgin James and Cheo Hodari Coker, "Lowriders" is a film full of heart and family, though its stale execution lacks any real flavor or originality - this is essentially another version of young kid trying to break free from the streets to really experience life. In spite of flaws, it's superbly acted by a talented cast.

The standout in "Lowriders" belongs to "Son of Anarchy's" Rossi (who's having a better time than his "SOA" castmate Charlie Hunnam after the dreadful "King Arthur"), who casts a charming spell as the older brother known as "Ghost" because his father's refusal to acknowledge him after he got in trouble. With a wide smile and trusting face, it's hard not to like Rossi, who with the right material could become a star in his own right.

"Desperate Housewives'" Eva Longoria also has a nice supporting turn, while Bichir is gruff and stout as the father, and Chavarria casting a youthful, innocent glaze as the teen with some genuine artistic skills. It's all unfortunate due to "Lowriders" uneven, shallow story that isn't fully developed or worked out. There are some decent moments of family reconciliation, but the story still seems to be missing some pieces.

Those sweet, lowrider cars, which bounce up and down, are supporting characters too, and they certainly don't disappoint and among the most memorable parts of the movie. "Lowriders" is likely geared toward the Hispanic or youth segments, who may relate to it more, but it could've been much better.

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