Directed by Eva Longoria.
Starring Jesse Garcia, Annie Gonzalez, Dennis Haysbert, Matt Walsh, Tony Shalhoub, Bobby Soto, Pepe Serna, Emilio Rivera, Vanessa Martinez, Jimmy Gonzales, Eric Marq, Fabian Alomar, and Hunter Jones.
flamin’ hot is the story of Richard Montañez, the Frito Lay janitor who channeled his Mexican-American heritage and upbringing to turn Flamin’ Hot Cheetos into a snack that revolutionized the food industry and became a global phenomenon.
A movie about the popular spicy snack Frito-Lay Cheetos sounds satiating on paper for a number of reasons; virtually everyone has tried to eat at least one of them, a biopic about a sandwich inventor sounds refreshing given the genre’s typical themes, and there’s an inspiring story detailing the proverbial American Dream for Mexican-American family man Richard Montañez (Jesse Garcia, striving to be charismatic and charming, struggling due to a crude script with awkward jokes and forced drama) who uses his maintenance job at the Frito-Lay factory as an environment to pursue greater ambitions that will better provide for his family if they come to fruition. In theory, flamin’ hot It’s meant to be eaten, but the execution results in such a generic make-your-own-fate rags-to-riches narrative that it seems anything but spicy.
There’s no denying that a story about a Mexican-American man toiling away for over 10 years in a Frito-Lay factory during the 1980s and 1990s, when workplace racism was much more informal (all the infrastructure is set up like a high school lunchroom, with wealthy white men sitting together and minorities typically on the bottom rung of this class system) and had fewer opportunities to climb the ladder to a higher-paying position in the company, it’s a story potentially insightful for intrigue within considering what he created and, more importantly, how his eye for diversity, multicultural marketing and sheer audacity despite a lack of education made his idea possible.
Director Eva Longoria (with a screenplay by Lewis Colick and Linda Yvette and based on the memoirs of Richard Montañez A Kid, a Donkey, and a Cookie: From Janitor to Executive) opts for a traditional biographical narrative structure complete with copious narration, beginning by giving a crash course on Richard Montañez’s childhood farm consisting of hard labor and physical abuse at the hands of his father Vacho (Emilio Rivera). He is an outcast in school due to his Mexican heritage, but befriends Judy (Annie González), who is also ostracized. There’s also a first look at his street smarts where he tricks thugs into eating a burrito where, unsurprisingly, they realize he tastes delicious.
Fast-forward to Richard as an adult, he has grown into a mostly harmless low-level gangster, and his narration insists that the story doesn’t fall into stereotypes because this happened. Naturally, he wants to support Judy and her children more honorably, hence the Frito-Lay job he gets with the help of his wife, since he can’t understand what some of the terms mean. of the form.
This isn’t a movie that takes itself too seriously, but it does have an upbeat comedic tone that doesn’t do Jesse Garcia any favors. His acting is much more natural and engaging when he’s more dramatic, such as when he’s going over the top of the range, pitching his snack idea directly to PepsiCo CEO Roger Enrico (Tony Shalhoub), or second-guessing himself over mishaps or his lack of education.
There are also compelling scenes with a black co-worker (Dennis Haysbert) who has achieved a decent position at the factory, with Richard clinging to him for advice and support on how to impress and elevate his position. It also takes 45 minutes to get there, but the spice combination and taste test for the new brand of snacks is a fun aspect that works, and one you wish they flamin’ hot it focused more on the creation itself than functioning as a standard time-skip biopic marking various events. Everything else feels more like a forced questionable story where the challenge isn’t necessarily felt, which could be a side effect of being technically a fake true story (whatever that means).
The drama is sanitized, the story often feels cheesy rather than awakening and moving, and as much as I hate to say it, Richard Montañez is a flat, bland character, and it’s easy to imagine the details of his life and journey being more interesting. . that this. Jesse Garcia is good enough at playing him despite some minor reservations, but Eva Longoria has crafted a listless, basic narrative that misses the core of what made the creation of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos so remarkable not just as a snack that change the game but by Richard’s pioneer within the Frito-Lay Corporation. The material is outdated and does not match Richard’s ambition.
flamin’ hot It’s not as rancid as their Mountain Dew-flavored drink that the filmmakers have the nerve to promote during the end credits, but it’s not quite as tasty as the Cheetos themselves. It’s more like a crumpled bag in which half of the tiles are broken and you’ve been let down with the amount inside.
Blinking Myth Rating – Movie: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the reviews editor for Flickering Myth. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at [email protected]