Spare Parts

Spare Parts Information

Spare Parts is a 2015 American drama film directed by Sean McNamara and produced by David Alpert, Rick Jacobs, Leslie Kolins Small, George Lopez, and Ben Odell. It is based on the Wired Magazine article "La Vida Robot" by Joshua Davis, about the true story of a group of students from a mainly Latino high school, who won the first place over M.I.T. in the 2004 MATE ROV competition. The film was released by Lions Gate Entertainment on January 16, 2015.


Oscar Vazquez (Carlos PenaVega) goes to an American Forces Career Center to enlist into the U.S. Army, while he is waiting for his interview, he sees a video announcement and brochures about a Marine Underwater Robotics Competition, an event sponsored by NASA and the United States Armed Forces. Although he distinguished himself as part of the Carl Hayden High School Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, he is forbidden to join because of his status as an illegal alien and he is recommended not to present himself to any government office to avoid being reported to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency. Vazquez lies to his mother about his progress in the Army and starts investigating about the Underwater Robotics Competition looking for another way to move ahead in life.

Although he doesn't have any previous formal teaching experience, being between jobs, Fredi Cameron (George Lopez) interviews for a vacant substitute teacher position at Carl Hayden High School. The principal (Jamie Lee Curtis) questions his job stability record, but eventually hires Cameron because of his Ph.D. and engineer credentials. After the interview, while in the school's parking lot, Lorenzo Santillan overrides Cameron's car temperature safety sensor for $20, so he can avoid a more costly repair job.

As part of his normal teaching responsibilities, Cameron is assigned to oversee an engineering club, where he meets Vazquez who is looking for help to build a remotely operated underwater robot for the UCSD robotics competition. Cameron grudgingly accepts to help, even though he doesn't feel he is going to remain at the school for long.

Vazquez, looking for more kids to join the engineering club, talks to teacher Gwen Kolinsky (Marisa Tomei) who recommends Cristian Arcega (David Del Rio). After agreeing to help, Arcega takes the technical lead of the project and sketches an early design of the potential robot. Before starting to build it, Cameron suggests a prototype so they can do a proof of concept model.

Cameron starts to learn about the competition rules and requirements, which demands the robot to successfully complete a series of underwater tasks. Kolinsky offers to help teaching him about the BASIC programming language, which he is going to need to implement the robot's intelligence module.

After catching Santillan stealing from the principal's car, Cameron forces him to join the team and the now named Robotics Academic Club, so he can help with the mechanical design and building of the prototype. They later recruit Luis Aranda, for being strong enough to help lift the machine in and out of the pool.

Because of a lack of funds to see the project through, the team starts looking for spare parts and asking for donations from the local businesses, which raise $663.53, plus $134.63 given by Cameron himself. The small budget forces them to scale back the original design and to innovate in how the robot is constructed, which they end up naming "Stinky" because of the smell it had when they glued it together.

Needing to go from Phoenix to Santa Barbara also created problems because three of the four boys were undocumented immigrants from Mexico. The day before the competition, they had to fix a critical electrical problem due to a leak in the case that protected the intelligence module by using tampons to contain the water.

Facing several highly funded college teams, their robot finished the practical segment of the competition in fourth place with 75 points after missing three tasks. They were still hopeful for a chance to make it into third place because 30% of the total score would be based on the judges' technical evaluation and interview of the teams.

The night of the awards ceremony, they are given a Special Achievement award, which the team assumes is their final result. They are later surprised when they are announced as the champions of the event.



Spare Parts is the first production under Lopez's recently announced film and TV deal with Pantelion Films, South Shore, the film and TV ventures between Lionsgate and Latin American media giant Televisa. Much of the shooting of the film was done on location in Albuquerque, New Mexico.


Box office

Spare Parts grossed $3.6 million. The film opened in North America on January 16, 2015, earning $1.3 million on its opening weekend and finishing 17th at the box office.

Critical reception

Spare Parts received mixed reviews from the critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 54% based on 24 critics. On Metacritic, the film has a rating of 50 out of 100, based on 15 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".Spare Parts grossed $1,335,768 on opening weekend.

Differences between real life and film

Although Spare Parts was based on real life events surrounding the formation and competition of a group of high school kids, there were creative liberties taken by the filmmakers in order to complete the story.

In real life, the Explorer division of the competition was not dominated by private universities, as in the movie. In fact, it consisted of four high schools (including Carl Hayden), four community colleges, two public universities, and MIT. Interestingly, three of the teams depicted in the movie"?Cornell, Virginia Tech, and Duke"?did enter an underwater robotics competition in 2004, however, they did not enter the MATE ROV competition that Carl Hayden entered. They instead competed at the RoboSub competition, where remote control was not allowed; all vehicles were required to be fully autonomous, navigating using sensors and software algorithms. In that competition, another team from MIT received first place, followed by Cornell in second.

In addition, the students were led by teachers Fredi Lajvardi and Allan Cameron and not just one as depicted in the film. The teachers are not from Hispanic descent.

Other media

There is also a book with the same title (ISBN 978-0374534981) and a documentary named "Underwater Dreams", that chronicle the story of the Carl Hayden team.

This webpage uses material from the Wikipedia article "Spare_Parts_%28film%29" and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. Reality TV World is not responsible for any errors or omissions the Wikipedia article may contain.



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