Where to stream it? Hulu and Disney+ beginning on June 9th, 2023
Starring: Jesse Garcia, Annie Gonzalez, Emilio Rivera, Dennis Haysbert, Tony Shalhoub
Directed by: Eva Longoria
Intro: Flamin' Hot Review
This may be the first time I’ve seen an audience cheer for a Cheeto. Yet despite a premise that focuses on the man who purportedly invented Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, this film is so much more than the origin story of a convenience store staple.
In actress Eva Longoria’s directorial debut, she demonstrates a remarkable ability to tell an uplifting story of an underdog in a way that doesn’t feel like a weepy made-for-cable movie. Flamin’ Hot is an absolute delight to watch from start to finish, succeeding in telling a story that will both inspire its audience and leave them in stitches with its clever dialogue.
Editor's note: Some have disputed claims that Richard Montañez really created the recipe for Flamin' Hot Cheetos. Eva Longoria has stood by Montañez. This review will judge the film on its own merits as a narrative work, leaving you as our readers to judge for yourself what's fact and what's fiction.
Things are Getting Spicy
The film follows the story of Richard Martiñez (Jesse Garcia) a man who is charismatic, street smart, and business savvy. He develops an entrepreneurial spirit from a young age when he sells burritos to his classmates.
Residing in a lower-income Latino community and with a criminal background, he struggles to find employment as an adult. His headstrong wife, Judy (Annie Gonazalez), helps him find a job at a Frito-Lay factory even if it takes adding some slight embellishments to his resume. His work as a custodian puts him at the bottom of the social hierarchy at the company, but by getting on the good side of a mentor (Dennis Haysbert), he is able to gain some mobility.
After watching a video from the Frito-Lay CEO Roger Enrico (Tony Shalhoub) where he encourages his employees to “think like a CEO,” Richard gets the idea to add some spice to the Frito-Lay product lineup with a “flaming hot” Cheeto variety that's aimed at the Latino market. He then sets his sights on pitching the product to Enrico himself.
His journey to make a better life for himself and his family is told with humor and heart, all while celebrating the spirit of Mexican-American culture.
I can’t think of a biopic I’ve seen in recent memory that was this funny. Its script from Lewis Colick and Linda Yvette Chávez is blasted with a flavor dust of wit and charm. Likewise the stellar cast including its lead actors Jesse Garcia and Annie Gonzalez have terrific chemistry together.
Eva Longoria has lovingly crafted a film that uplifts Latino talent both in front of, and behind the camera. As the director, you can tell she's worked with a conscientiousness of its potential to open doors to other Latino artists while also providing a universal story that will resonate with a wide range of audiences.
You'll fall in love with Jesse Garcia's portrayal of Richard Montañez. The story zips through his life using expert narration and editing to create the experience of hearing the story from the man himself. If this kind of storytelling is anything at all like that of the real Montañez, it's clear how he was able to become a successful motivational speaker.
Final Thoughts: Flamin' Hot Review
Watching this film with a live audience for its premiere at South by Southwest was a delight and I can't wait for this movie to begin burnin' up Hulu this summer.
Eva Longoria has a flamin' hit on her Cheeto-dusted hands. But this isn't a movie about junk food. It's a story of a man who will do anything to honor his family, community, and heritage while having a bunch of laughs along the way.