Rolling Stone opens with this: "Road movies don't come hotter than Y Tu Mama Tambien". The NYT says the film "is one of those Bildungsroman films that could begin or end with the phrase "And my life was never the same again." But the director, Alfonso Cuarón, works with a quicksilver fluidity, and the movie is fast, funny, unafraid of sexuality and finally devastating."
The Guardian says, "This film is an exhilarating adventure in narrative, eroticism and social commentary." EW calls it "sad, funny, sexy, and altogether marvelous".
Roger Ebert gives it a full 4-star review and says, "Beneath the carefree road movie that the movie is happy to advertise is a more serious level--and below that, a dead serious level." He reflects on the state of our ridiculous film ratings system:
Why did he return to Mexico to make it? Because he has something to say about Mexico, obviously, and also because Jack Valenti and the MPAA have made it impossible for a movie like this to be produced in America. It is a perfect illustration of the need for a workable adult rating: too mature, thoughtful and frank for the R, but not in any sense pornographic. Why do serious film people not rise up in rage and tear down the rating system that infantilizes their work?Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 92%.