FLAMIN' HOT (DISNEY+) (2023)
SYNOPSIS: FLAMIN’ HOT is the inspiring true story of Richard Montañez (Jesse Garcia), the Frito Lay janitor who channeled his Mexican American heritage and upbringing to turn the iconic Flamin’ Hot Cheetos into a snack that disrupted the food industry and became a global pop culture phenomenon.
You might know the snack, flamin’ hot cheetos but I doubt you know the story behind the man who helped created it.
Son of immigrants, Richard Montañez (Jesse Garcia) is a lowly-ranked janitor at the Frito-Lay factory. Despite having a decent job, Richard and his supportive wife, Judy (Annie Gozalez) still fails to make ends meet. With the economic downturn, Frito-Lay faces retrenchment and closure. Inspired by CEO Roger Enrico (Tony Shalhoub), Richard decides to pitch to the latter about the new flavour he came up with, spicy flavoured Cheetos tailored to the Latino market which successfully propels him from a janitor to a marketing executive with the brand.
Flamin’ Hot for the most part is a simple story about a man who tries his best to provide for his family. Instead of peddling drugs on the street, Richard is eager to learn and aims to work as a mechanic at the factory in the future thus he befriends a smart African-American Clarence (Dennis Haysbert) who works as an maintenance engineer.
There’s no overly dramatic treatment of the material. It’s genuinely a feel-good family movie with the exception of some tense moments between Richard and his religious father, Vacho. The debut directorial feature from Eva Longoria (Gabrielle from Desperate Housewives) is a breezy watch filled with lots of Latino cultural bits and dialogue. Basically, you can feel the non-stop energy from the direction and the cast especially Garcia who turns in a very likeable performance.
While there are some commentary about racism against Latinos, drugs and crimes in the beginning, there’s no meaningful discussion in the end because Cheetos is the main takeaway of this flick. To be honest, the whole experience is like a feature-length television special with serviceable, passable set designs and production values.
Everybody loves a good old rags to riches story. The catch however is Frito-Lay’s official documents state that Richard is not the one responsible for it. It’s supposedly invented from a lab in Midwest. If you are not one who is particular on fact checking then Flamin’ Hot definitely hits the right spot with its classic underdog theme and inspiring narrative.
Review by Linus Tee