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'Under the Same Moon'

Though they're separated by hundreds of miles and a border fence, Rosario and her 9-year-old son, Carlitos, have managed to remain close: She calls him from the same L.A. pay phone at noon every Sunday, and they talk about how happy they'll be when they're reunited and take comfort in the thought that as far apart as they are, they're still under the same ... well, you get the idea.

But when the grandmother Carlitos has been living with dies shortly after one of those calls — and it becomes clear that the authorities are about to step in to find him a new home — he embarks on a trip to find his mom, not realizing that she's just hours away from returning to Mexico to find him.

Border guards, child molesters, crack addicts and a father who abandoned him long ago are among the many obstacles Carlitos must avoid in a story that also contains musical interludes and much kindness by strangers. That story is, as told by director Patricia Riggen and writer Ligiah Villalobos, a little too sweetly predictable for its own good. Still, as a reminder of the pressures immigration laws put on families, the movie's undeniably timely, and the acting is sharp enough to engage all but the hardest hearts.

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Bob Mondello, who jokes that he was a jinx at the beginning of his critical career — hired to write for every small paper that ever folded in Washington, just as it was about to collapse — saw that jinx broken in 1984 when he came to NPR.