Flamin’ Hot movie review & film summary (2023)

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Earlier models of the format, like John Lee Hancock’s “The Founder” and David O. Russell’s “Joy,” were just hints at a growing interest in the lives of those behind well-known products and corporations, which seems to have grown in the ensuing years of inflation and economic insecurity—not too dissimilar to the current spate of movies set in the ‘80s and ‘90s, which also had their stretches of economic bumps. Maybe these movies are a little boost for bootstrapping morale: that all anyone needs to succeed is a little conviction and the right partners. At a time when white-collar workers are resisting the call to return to offices or some companies have done away with physical office spaces altogether, these period pieces can feel like they’re romanticizing (or cautioning against) what’s been lost—both the good (camaraderie, getting to know your coworkers outside of a Zoom box) and the bad (managerial abuse, white collar crime, no work-life balance, etc.). 

Then there’s Eva Longoria’s narrative directorial debut, “Flamin’ Hot,” which, on a level of seriousness between a potential award hopeful like “Air” and the irreverent but biting “BlackBerry,” occupies its own too-silly-to-be-taken-seriously spot. “Flamin’ Hot” follows sometimes unreliable narrator and main character Richard Montañez (Jesse Garcia) from a rough, impoverished childhood, a mistake-filled adolescence, to an adulthood with some regrets. In the 1980s, he’s a desperate man looking for a second chance to provide for his family. He catches a break with the help of his adoring wife, Judy (Annie Gonzalez), and lands a job on the janitorial staff of a Frito-Lay plant in Rancho Cucamonga. Not only does Richard work hard, but he also pays close attention to the machines. Over time, he learns how they work with the help of a reluctant mentor, Clarence C. Baker (Dennis Haysbert). Richard’s hard work and tenacity lead him to invent a new spicy blend of snacks based on the flavors of his childhood. He then jumps the corporate ladder to pitch it to Frito Lay’s parent company president, Roger Enrico (Tony Shalhoub), and the rest is his tasty history. 

Although “Flamin’ Hot” might be a finger-licking good story, it’s also not true. And now, I have to wrestle with its artificially sweet, feel-good inspirational story. What is the movie’s purpose if Frito-Lay told the filmmakers their source material was false? Was the janitor rags-to-riches story just too hot to drop? Do we, as a woefully underrepresented group in movies, need this story, facts be damned? As a Latina critic who has been writing about my community’s stories for as long as I’ve had a career, I want better for us and our storytellers. While I enjoy some aspects of this movie, I’m not sure the means justified the lackluster result. 

Sumber: www.rogerebert.com

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