How To Be A Latin Lover

Starring: Eugenio Derbez, Salma Hayek, Rob Lowe, Raphael Alejandro, Kristen Bell, Raquel Welch, Rob Corddry, Rob Riggle, Rob Huebel, McKenna Grace, Michael Cera, Linda Lavin, Renee Taylor, Michaela Watkins,
Directed By: Ken Marino

Plot: As a child, Maximo wants to just be rich without having to work for it. So, as an adult, he figures out the best way to do that, is to marry a wealthy cougar. He finds his match, and 25 years later, Maximo (Derbez) finds himself being dumped by his wealthy whale (Taylor) and kicked to the curb. Unable to cope with being poor, Maximo temporarily moves home with his sister (Hayek) and his nephew (Alejandro). However, when he learns his nephew has a crush on a girl (Grace) with a rich widowed grandmother (Welch), Maximo works his charm to teach his nephew how to get the girl of his dreams, only so that he can land his.

What Works: Derbez has had previous success in Spanish Language cinema, and this is his attempt to break out and grab some English language audiences. It kinda works. For all his charm, and the charm of his very talented supporting cast, this film can never escape the feel that it’s an entertaining B-movie. There’s something about this film that has almost a straight-to-video vibe to it. I’m reminded of comedies like Chairman Of The Board or Suburban Commando, which were quickly crafted around their star and tailored to his needs. This feels like that. It’s like a test-market film to see if a studio should invest more money in a larger scale Derbez comedy. Will American audiences love him? Let’s find out. There’s nothing really terribly original here, and the acting is all mostly passable. I’d say Kristen Bell is a standout because she’s so fully committed to her rather insane role. This film tries to throw some heart in, but it only kinda works because the film is only kinda committed to it.

What Doesn’t Work: Like I said, the film is only kinda committed to having a heart. Maximo basically learns nothing, winding up where he started. And he’s forgiven far too quickly, and far too easily. I wasn’t a fan of Raphael Alejandro. I think there are better child actors. McKenna Grace is one of them, and she’s had better roles than this. A lot of the jokes are sophomoric, and feel very late 90’s, like in an Adam Sandler movie. You have your requisite fart jokes, inappropriate things to say to a child, and hilarious random acts of violence that popped up in late 90’s comedies. It doesn’t feel like the kind of film we still make today.

Final Word: Despite its shortcomings, I was fairly entertained by this. I’d narrowly give it a fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. I think I liked it more than I disliked it, but by no means would I say this needs to be seen immediately or in theatres. If you’re interested, catch it at Redbox or on Netflix. There’s nothing spectacular to see here, but there’s nothing awful to warrant staying away. It was a decent way to pass two hours.

Final Grade: B-

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