“Flamin’ Hot” stretches the “based on a true story” line to the breaking level.
The story of a janitor turned advertising guru Richard Montañez bought debunked by the L.A. Occasions two years in the past with Frito Lay’s blessing. It’s nonetheless attainable to savor a lot of Eva Longoria’s function directorial debut which proves snappy, honest and not possible to hate.
The movie’s eagerness to tweak our feelings hits a essential level mid-film, although, and received’t quit till the tip credit function.
Jesse Garcia stars as Richard, a good-natured soul battered by American racism and a disapproving Daddy (“Sons of Anarchy” alum Emilio Rivera). Richard flirts with hood life till he meets Judy (Annie Gonzales) and turns into a father.
That leaves little time for thuggery, so Richard finds work as a janitor with Frito-Lay’s Rancho Cucamonga plant.
He refuses to accept that entry-level gig. He plots methods to creep up the company ladder, realizing his household calls for greater than what a janitor’s wage can afford. He befriends a proficient mechanic (Dennis Haysbert, who oozes gravitas in addition to any dwelling actor) however is regularly rebuffed by casually racist superiors.
Richard received’t quit, and when he tinkers with a signature Frito-Lay chip he stumbles onto a snack that might revolutionize the corporate.
Longoria retains the tone gentle and comedic, utilizing snappy musical cues and intelligent digicam work to spice up that spirit. It’s in sharp distinction to the forces aligned towards Richard. He faces oppression in practically each sequence, which generally proves as doubtful as Richard’s Frito-Lay claims.
There’s little doubt Mexican immigrants from the period confronted their justifiable share of bigotry, however it’s trotted out early and sometimes right here in a manipulative style. The identical holds true for Richard’s lengthy, gradual skilled ascent. We’re led to consider racism reared its head in each a part of an immigrant’s life, however Richard’s story belies that actuality.
The movie additionally fails to grant Frito-Lay CEO Roger Enrico (Tony Shalhoub) the nuance the character calls for. His tender spot for a fellow entrepreneur is touching, however the film spends a lot time shredding the capitalistic system that it’s odd to worship an trade titan like Enrico.
Shalhoub is a tremendous actor and handing him a extra difficult function would have elevated the story past a straight-to-streaming automobile.
“Flamin’ Hot” performs quick and free with greater than the core story in play. It showcases gang life as an lovable a part of Mexican tradition, a operating gag that grows stale over the movie’s in any other case environment friendly operating time.
Longoria is one in every of Hollywood’s most outspoken progressives, and he or she confirms that standing with an out-of-the-blue swipe at President Ronald Reagan’s financial file.
“I didn’t know politics affected people, especially hard-working people like us,” Richard says by way of one in every of many narrated moments. It’s just like the progressive Longoria broke the fourth wall to remind us of her off-screen inclinations.
The irony is apparent.
“Flamin’ Hot,” whether or not marginally correct or full fiction, honors laborious work and refutes the Left’s victimhood narrative.
Richard may have given up at any level in his journey. Others may need finished simply that. He is aware of that as a proud Mexican, and a father of two, he couldn’t take the simple manner out. He needed to hold hustling, and hold innovating, till his breakthrough second arrived.
And it did, later than anticipated however stuffed with wealthy, satisfying rewards. That’s the American dream many immigrants crave.
One other irony?
DeVon Franklin co-produced a movie that takes lazy jabs at each religion and those that embrace it with out a lot of a corrective arc. Wealthy and Judy pray at one level within the film, however it’s performed extra for laughs than any non secular balm.
Richard Montañez, creator of the Flamin’ Scorching Cheeto and inspiration behind the brand new @FlaminHotMovie, talks about success for all Latinos within the enterprise world and past. #LALIFF2023 pic.twitter.com/Y0REDy1kFY
— LALIFF (@LALIFF) June 1, 2023
It’s not possible to not cheer on Garcia’s efficiency, gritty and uplifting, however the screenplay is so nakedly devious it’s equally laborious to not cry foul. Each step Richard takes is met by ignorance, bigotry or simply de facto cruelty.
The film clicks when it lets the characters and the mild moments that seize their group cleared the path.
There’s a extra correct story to be instructed right here, one wherein a company large wakes as much as the blossoming Latino market and begins chatting with them with their chips.
The story of a shrewd marketer who knew the general public would eat up a faux however correct story like so many Flamin’ Scorching chips.
HiT or Miss: “Flamin’ Hot” serves up a spicy tackle the American dream, albeit one which manipulates viewers at each flip.