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Movie Review

Selena Quintanilla Perez. Music fans were just getting to know this 23-year-old Tejano singing sensation when she was slain on March 31, 1995. A tragic end to a modern fairy tale. But the biopic Selena doesn't dwell on the artist's untimely exit from the world stage. Rather, it uses warmth and humor to introduce viewers to a tightly knit Mexican-American family striving to overcome prejudice and realize a shared dream.

Early on, a 9-year-old Selena, along with her brother and sister, is lovingly shanghaied into music by a passionate dad whose own doo-wop dreams went unfulfilled. But whining resistance becomes sibling revelry when the children catch the fever of performing before appreciative crowds that, over the course of a decade, would evolve into hoards of loyal fans.

Two profanities, one reference to "boobs" and a shot of dad in his underwear notwithstanding, Selena is an entertaining, yet bittersweet story that provides a virtual curriculum of substantive issues for family discussion. Bigotry. Modesty. Honesty. Trust. Betrayal. Also, consider:

— Why did Selena's father object to her racy outfits? Was he justified? (1 Tim. 2:9)

— What did her Dad mean when he said, "You can't be anything if you don't know who you are"? How does that relate to Christians?

— How did reactions to the trashing of the hotel room show good character?

— Examine Selena and Chris' relatively wholesome relationship for "dos and don'ts" of dating.

Fueled by terrific performances by Jennifer Lopez and Edward James Olmos, Selena is an engaging musical biography. It's also a gripping character study. And for teens unfamiliar with Mexican-American life, it offers a glimpse into a culture rich in tradition, artistry and family. The film concludes with footage of the real-life Selena. An affectionate tribute.

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