Amanda Marcotte and Lindsay Beyerstein debate Y Tu Mama Tambien. Amanda in Pandagon:
After I quit squelching my doubts about “American Beauty” and saw it for the bankrupt film it is—and was happy to see other critics and people I admire express those same doubts down the road (who doesn’t like validation?)—I got a little firmer in my opinions, a little braver about my own tastes. Which is why I humbly wish someone had reamed the crap out of “Y Tu Mama Tambien” on this list, since that’s the last movie I saw that I just absolutely hated and couldn’t believe that so many people were impressed by it. It’s probably the same issue as “American Beauty”—since it’s well shot and well acted and has all the markers of an arty film, it suckers people into ignoring that it has the same plot as “Love Story”. Except worse, in a way, because the Manic Pixie Dream Girl is not only interested in teaching young men to live life so she can expire with her purpose in life being filled, but she’s there to teach us something about men’s relationships with each other. In this case, the attempt to weasel out of a tedious, sexist cliche involves injecting some man-on-man action and having the men’s relationship with each other fall apart, but I was unimpressed, since the basic idea that cheeky women are there as muses and conduits for men, and that they have no reason to continue to exist having accomplished their assigned task, was central to the story.
Onion AV writer Nathan Rabin coined the term to describe Kristen Dunst's character in a scathing review of Elizabethtown:
The Manic Pixie Dream Girl exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures. The Manic Pixie Dream Girl is an all-or-nothing-proposition. Audiences either want to marry her instantly (despite The Manic Pixie Dream Girl being, you know, a fictional character) or they want to commit grievous bodily harm against them and their immediate family.
We feminists roll our eyes at the MPDG character for obvious reasons. It's an annoying form of objectification most commonly perpetrated by male writers who are smugly convinced of their own progressive sensibilities. They think they're better than the guys who leer at pinups, but the MPDG doesn't have any more depth. The MPDG is wish-fulfillment for all those nice guys out there who just want someone conventionally beautiful to see their inner beauty and appreciate their mix tapes. The writer doesn't want you to doubt that the guy totally deserves her–maybe not in the sense of being handsome, successful, or charming. But, see, those are bullshit social norms that are keeping our hero down, which is why he needs a crazy girl to truly appreciate him in ways that shallow cheerleaders cannot. Lazy writers think that if they make the girl a little daft, they can skip the part where they explain what she sees in him. She's whimsical, that's why!
Whatever else you can say about Y Tu Mama, and it's not a flawless movie by any means, Luisa is no MPDG.