A not so dangerously cheesy take on how these snacks came into fruition.
“Flamin’ Hot” tells the story of how Frito-Lays chips were changed forever because of the spicy hot flavors added to them. Richard Montañez is a Mexican-American laborer, who claimed to have invented them by taking home plain products from the factory he was working at, and adding traditional Mexican spices to them. The movie, directed by Eva Longoria in her debut, doesn’t make the competition on who really invented the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, but rather, it shows us the story from his perspective. They can be embellished in the first take and then be given the hard truth in the second.
For instance, Richard (Jesse Garcia) remembers his childhood when he sold burritos at school and is accused of stealing his hard-earned money by the police. He imagines that scene if he was a white kid, but the sad truth is, because he’s Mexican, why should the racists believe him?
The movie, itself, can be an impressive attempt for the actress to direct a movie about chips, spices, and the American Dream. But it should have been more honest and inspiring and less gimmicky in its formulas.
We see him struggling to feed his family, and makes his way into the Frito-Lay factory, which would eventually go into closure with many workers fired. Unless……they can come up with a new flavor that can win the public over. That’s when Richard comes in, and he enlists the help of his family and new engineer friend Clarence (Dennis Haysbert) to pull off this dangerously cheesy plan off.
The supporting cast also consists of Emilio Rivera as Richard’s abusive father, Annie Gonzalez Matt Walsh as his white negative Nancy boss, and Tony Shalhoub as the PepsiCo CEO. Remember Pepsi and Fritos-Lay merged together.
“Flamin’ Hot” loses the flavor when it has to show us Richard’s dubbing and interpretations of the businessmen, because it seems too derivative and arbitrary to be funny. This is what I was talking about when I was saying this movie is told from his perspective, and having the embellishments before the hard truth. It happens so much, that the results end up becoming predictable.
Longoria is able to step outside her comfort zone and show us one man’s ambitions to make it big, given his circumstances. He is a Mexican citizen in America, who has been discriminated by society up to the point of him and his wife struggling to feed their family and him willing to get a job as a janitor in the factory. But more of the style and ambition and less on the cliches would have been enough for me to see the true flavors inside the film.
Garcia does some good work portraying him with the right tones and consistencies. And I liked the supporting work from Haysbert, because of the way he uses his age and abilities to play a wise engineer, who wants to aim higher. Apparently, he within the company, there are levels a worker must be in to be accepted. The big leagues are the one who know how to wear suits and ties and talk a big game.
“Flamin’ Hot” has a delicious attitude, not just the Cheetos, but also for its humor and anticipation, but it needs the right ingredients in the screenplay in order to sell to the public. These snacks are damn spicy, if only this film reflected on the same taste.
Streaming on Hulu and Disney+ This Friday