Fredi Cameron (George Lopez) is an unemployed engineer who is hired as a substitute teacher at Carl Hayden Community High School in Phoenix by the unorthodox principal (Jamie Lee Curtis). Half the kids in the school are undocumented immigrants from Mexico and face deportation if their status is discovered.

Oscar (Carlos Penavega) is a gung ho young man who has just found out that he can't enlist in the Army because he doesn't have U.S. papers. He decides to make his mark by building a robot that can maneuver in water for a competition sponsored by NASA. When Cameron agrees to be the advisor for a school robotics club, Oscar recruits three outsiders to join him. They are computer and math wizard Cristian (David del Rio), mechanical wizard Lorenzo (Jose Julian), and a heavy set teen Hector (JR Villarreal) who does all their heavy lifting. Cameron delights in watching them work together as a team, even though they lack funding and experience.

This true inspirational story is based on a Wired magazine article by Joshua Davis which focuses on the ways in which the faith and solidarity of these four Latino youth is tested both before and after the contest. It is directed by Sean McNamera from a screenplay by Elisa Matsueda which emphasizes the personal struggles each of these adolescents is going through.

The core cast are all excellent. So are Alessandra Rosaldo who plays Oscar's mother, Alexa PenaVega as Oscar's supportive girlfriend, and Esai Morales as Lorenzo's judgmental father. Marisa Tomei puts in a stellar performance as an empathetic teacher who becomes close to Cameron as he tries to determine the exact nature of his vocation.

As Spare Parts proceeded to the competition and conclusion, we were reminded of other movies about underdogs such as Hoosiers and McFarland, USA.

Special features on the DVD include deleted scenes.