J. R. Jones
Though based on a Wired magazine story, this sticks closely to the formulas of inspirational-teacher and sports-team dramas; distinguishing it from the pack is the fact that all four students who formed the club were undocumented.
Sequences and scenes end unceremoniously, everyone in the movie seems to know each other's backstory before they're properly introduced, and mild jokes land with uncertainty.
Spare Parts tries too hard to be a based-on-a-true-story, feel-good, crowd-pleasing, triumph-of-the-underdogs movie.
While the appropriately titled "Spare Parts" might feel like it has been assembled from bits and pieces of other inspirational movies, that doesn't mean the fact-based drama is any less effective ...
This blatantly big-hearted product isn't half as vibrant as the original 2005 Wired article on which it's based, and myopically neglects to address Arizona's troubling anti-immigration legislation through even a splash of hindsight.
Despite its clunkier elements, Matsueda's screenplay is alert to details that ground the film in the day-to-day lives of young people who are American in every way but technically.
In the end, "Spare Parts" proves to be more exhausting than it is inspiring.
At times, Spare Parts sails perilously close to the saccharine. But the film is a fine example of a message movie that does justice both to its important subject matter and to its characters' inner lives.
A surprisingly effective and affecting fact-based drama, despite its reliance on several recycled elements.