Flamin’ Hot Review

Flamin’ Hot Review

Eva Longoria’s directorial debut is a heartwarming and inspirational story that hits the right notes even if it doesn’t deviate from the underdog formula.

Plot: This is the inspiring true story of Richard Montañez who as a Frito Lay janitor disrupted the food industry by channeling his Mexican heritage to turn Flamin’ Hot Cheetos from a snack into an iconic global pop culture phenomenon.

Review: Underdog stories come in all sorts of flavors, but they rarely aim to be as spicy as Flamin’ Hot. Based on the title and the story at the core of this biopic of Richard Montanez, Flamin’ Hot could have taken some more risks and challenged the expected formula of other rags-to-riches stories. This year alone, Ben Affleck’s Air told the origin of Michael Jordan’s historic contract with Nike in a way that turned what could have been referred to as “that movie about basketball shoes” into a potential Oscar contender. Eva Longoria’s directorial debut has a disputed origin of Cheetos’ popular spicy brand at its core but remains an inspirational if familiar story. While the Montanez version of Flamin’ Hot may not be completely true, it is a feel-good tale nonetheless. I wish this movie would have been a bit more unique like the invention that inspired it.

Flamin’ Hot, based on the book A Boy, A Burrito and a Cookie: From Janitor to Executive, opens with Richard Montanez (Jesse Garcia) chronicling his family’s Mexican heritage and struggles from a young age. Moving to a predominantly White neighborhood, young Richard met Judy (Annie Gonzalez), his future wife, and began earning pocket money by selling bean burritos to kids at school. When intolerance for Mexicans reared its ugly head, Richard fell into a life of gangs and crime before giving it up when Judy became pregnant. Struggling to find work without a high school diploma, Richard made his way to a custodial job at Frito-Lay. It was there that he befriended Clarence C. Baker (Dennis Haysbert) and began learning about the machines that generated chips and snacks like Doritos and Cheetos. When the economic downturn of the 1980s kicked in and risked the closure of their factory, Richard innovated the idea for a Latino-targeted spicy snack.

Taking it upon himself, Richard contacted the CEO of Pepsi, Roger Enrico (Tony Shalhoub), to pitch his titular snack. When he gets the chance to pilot the new Cheetos flavor to his California neighbors, Richard enlists his friends, family, and coworkers to change the world of American snacks forever. The key Throughout the film is Richard’s unyielding dedication to his family and heritage, which comes in the form of heartfelt voice-over narration and tongue-in-cheek variations of actual events. Richard embellishes elements here and there, which makes for funny moments like executives talking like cholos as well dramatic moments shown a scene later as awkward and clumsy. What never changes is the honest dynamic between Richard and his wife, Judy, which is a lovely and strong foundation for the following story. Jesse Garcia and Annie Gonzalez make for a solid duo who share the screen most of the time.

It is worth noting that the screenplay by Lewis Colick and Linda Yvette Chavez wholeheartedly supports Richard’s version of events. Aside from one reference to a character referencing that Frito-Lay already had a spicy product being test marketed in the Midwest, there is no acknowledgment of the New York Times investigation that could not corroborate the Montanez invented Flamin’ Hot Cheetos as he claims. That does not diminish the truth that Montanez went from being a janitor on a Frito-Lay factory floor to Vice President of Multicultural Sales at PepsiCo, where he oversaw decades of initiatives and brand rejuvenation that helped turn the company around. Taking out the legitimacy of Montanez’s claim to inventing the spicy brand, Flamin’ Hot still tells the inspirational journey that took Richard from being poor and barely able to support his family to a wealthy executive for one of the biggest corporations in the world.

Eva Longoria shows a solid aptitude as a filmmaker, especially when hitting the right moments of drama and humor that Flamin’ Hot is full of. A Latino heartbeat at the center of this movie gives the film a rhythm and tone that goes beyond ethnicity to tell a tale that will have all audiences smiling and rooting for the underdog. The problem with the movie is that there is never a moment where you doubt that obstacles or adversity will be overcome. Maybe it is the family-friendly approach or the sanitized perspective of poverty, but Flamin’ Hot never feels like a challenge. The fact that Richard Montanez transformed from dropout to executive feels glossed over in favor of focusing on the Flamin’ Hot product rollout being presented as a cultural landmark in American history. Make no mistake, the story is rousing and engaging, but it feels like it could have been more.

Flamin’ Hot is a good movie stuck between telling a unique story and a familiar one. I had hoped that Eva Longoria would have opted to try something a little unconventional with her debut as a filmmaker. She still brings energy to telling this story but lacks the spice this underdog tale deserves. Flamin’ Hot is authentic and rooted in Latino culture, blended with the American spirit of capitalism and striving for success. After the movie finished, I felt that distinct satisfaction of knowing that anything is possible, so in that way, this movie works well. I wish Flamin’ Hot had opted to pursue the obstacles as more than bumps on the way to Richard’s success. This story works better than I had thought it could have, but it needed a little more intensity.


Originally published at https://www.joblo.com/flamin-hot-review/

The post Flamin’ Hot Review first appeared on Digital Gossips.

Entertainment - Digital Gossips originally published at Entertainment - Digital Gossips

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