Have a Nice Day! (2023) Movie Review: Unlikely friendships are the backbones of some iconic buddy films from the past. Two people who would never have met otherwise become best friends through a stroke of luck. You find undeniable warmth in such stories that revolve around the magic of human connection. What makes such friendships resonate with us is the aspect of change in personalities that occurs as a result of such a connection, as well as the way one person fills some empty hole in another person’s life.
Yibran Asaud’s ‘Have a nice day!’ (Original title: ¿Encontró lo que buscaba?) builds itself around the same tropes. This new Mexican film on Netflix follows an old man – Enrique Guerrero (played by Álvaro Guerrero), who retired from his job as a radio host years ago. Back then, that gig rose him to the heights of popularity with an avid fanbase of radio listeners. He became a purveyor of music taste for many.
However, not long after getting this fame, his female co-host started getting all the limelight. He could not digest that. While he was deeply in love with her, he let his ego get the better of him and left the job for the sake of his dignity. Now after years, he gets an invitation to attend his former employer’s anniversary party. He wants to attend it but does not have enough money to present himself the way he wants to in front of his old flame.
So, he applies for a position at a local supermarket. That is where his friendship with teenager Picho (played by Eduardo Minett) begins. Enrique gets his lessons from Picho in the cash counter’s ‘grocery bag-man’ position. Their relationship starts on a rocky foundation for quite obvious reasons. Enrique wants reverence for the virtue of being older. Picho wants respect for being a senior at his job. Nevertheless, their friendship starts blooming when the old man learns about Picho’s love interest – Amanda (played by Andrea Chaparro).
His puppy love reminds Enrique of his own love story that went unfulfilled because of his personal missteps. He does not want the young guy to make the same mistakes that he did. So, he decides to be Picho’s guide. On the other hand, he also wants a solution for a quick buck. That’s where he uses Picho’s youthful energy for labor work and, in exchange, gives him romantic and life lessons. Eventually, he grows fonder of this boy and starts caring for him almost like a father.
Meanwhile, he is dealing with his feelings of loneliness. Old age makes him introspect on his life’s choices, and he wrestles with past regrets. The two lovebirds bring some joy into his life. Amanda’s enthusiasm toward his well-being makes him want to live a little. Picho’s interest in her makes him want to shed the grumpiness and be a compassionate helping hand to this adolescent kid. He also sees Picho as an outlet for his resourcefulness, making him feel needed and valued. We see a bittersweet portrait of this old man, whose refusal to be seen as a failure stands against the pangs of his old age.
Enrique belongs to a generation where people (more specifically, men) preferred to hide their real feelings and then express them through actions or silences. Álvaro Guerrero’s performance embodies this sentiment and leaves a strong imprint of Enrique’s pathos. Javier Peñalosa’s script handles Enrique’s pain and regret with the required poignancy. As a result, the conventional archetype of his character becomes significantly evocative. The credit for the film’s resonance also goes in its direction, creating a fine blend of humor and drama.
Besides drama, the film also handles its comedic bits in a refreshing manner. Even in the film’s funniest moments, the personalities shine more than the gimmicks of those gags. For example, let’s take Enrique’s craze for rock and roll music as his personality trait. There is a scene that stages a Mexican standoff between different cash counters that plays out like how Enrique envisions it. It uses Enrique’s love for music to its advantage in a hilarious freeze-frame sequence.
This absurdly comedic moment then seamlessly blends with the daily drama in the characters’ lives. Even with its share of darker moments, the humor never sticks out like a sore thumb. Although not memorable, Have a Nice Day! becomes a heartfelt film that shines due to its sensitive handling.