Flamin Hot Movie Review: A Superficial Snack or a Genuine Story?June 8, 2023 By Admin
Eva Longoria’s directorial debut, Flamin’ Hot, presents a conflict between sentimentality and superficiality. The film claims to tell the true story of the man who invented “Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.” The tension lies in our perception of truth and whether the broader honesty can be overshadowed by the specific narrative presented in this film.
In Flamin’ Hot, the more resonant truth is that Richard Montañez, played by Jesse Garcia, is a good person who, like many others, shouldn’t be defined by the lack of opportunities that hold him and others like him back. By viewing the film from a less literal perspective and considering its occasional exploration of the broader injustices prevalent in the country, there is more substance to be found. The film frequently taps into the truth that America is not the pure meritocracy it claims to be. Furthermore, it highlights the importance of dignity, respect, and fair wages for every worker. Montañez, starting as a janitor at Frito-Lay, a massive company, aspires for more but is denied these basic rights. Consequently, he becomes an underdog in a system rigged against him. It’s a compelling and relatable truth.
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However, the truth in this story becomes slippery. According to The Los Angeles Times, Montañez did not invent the snack as portrayed in his memoir and this film. It’s worth reading the investigation and Gustavo Arellano’s subsequent column, which delves into the frustration over the erasure of Mexican accomplishments by white America. Longoria, in defense of the movie, argues that it is bigger than one story. Interestingly, the film briefly acknowledges the existence of a similar snack before disregarding it, revealing a hint of insecurity about the foundation of its narrative. While Longoria’s point is valid, and Montañez’s experience can speak to something larger, the film falls short of leaving a lasting impression, despite the heartfelt writing by Lewis Colick and Linda Yvette Chávez.
Flamin’ Hot deserves commendation for its approach, which exposes the reality of big business through the eyes of a working-class character. It effectively portrays the daily indignities faced by individuals like Montañez. The film addresses instances of interpersonal and structural racism ingrained in society. It is empowering to see Montañez proudly embrace his cultural background, challenging the status quo. However, the film often veers into an idealized individualistic fantasy, creating a narrative that feels too good to be true. The leaps it takes end up feeling hollow and fail to engage with more complex questions. Frito-Lay, the corporation itself, is never truly held accountable for its exploitation of Montañez.
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Flamin’ Hot does attempt to show the challenges Montañez faced during his journey, incorporating humor to balance the dramatic moments. The humor works best when derived from the setbacks Montañez encounters, providing levity without undermining the film’s emotional beats. However, contrivances accumulate throughout the narrative, risking its credibility. The film acknowledges some exaggerations, but it never fully transcends its trappings to become something more profound.
To appreciate this story, one’s response may depend on how they have reacted to other recent films that might seem overly celebratory of corporations and their products. Flamin’ Hot, in comparison to those films, feels more conventional and superficial. It fails to capture the boldness and unconventionality that its real-life inspiration claims to embody. Ultimately, Flamin’ Hot comes across as a marketing campaign for a story and a brand, rather than an authentic retelling.
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