How to Be a Latin Lover

Posted on April 27, 2017 at 10:40 pm

Copyright 2017 Sony

I like everyone connected with this movie so much that I am especially sorry to give it a bad review. Mexican star Eugenio Derbez is a wonderfully engaging performer with enormous warmth and charm, as we saw in “Miracles From Heaven,” where he played the doctor. The supporting cast includes Salma Hayek, Kristen Bell, Rob Riggle, Raquel Welch, Michael Cera, Michaela Watkins, Rob Lowe, and even Weird Al Yankovic. The director is the very funny Ken Marino (“Burning Love”). And it introduces a terrific young actor, Raphael Alejandro, who is the highlight of every scene he is in. But all of that talent cannot overcome a painfully unfunny script by Chris Spain and Jon Zack.

In the opening scene, a young brother and sister see their father drive into their house, creating an explosion that kills him and destroys their home. There’s a way to start a comedy!

This is an important lesson in the uncertainty of life, which the boy interprets as: Find a wealthy lover and be pampered for as long as you live.

As a healthy and handsome young man (played by Derbez’s very attractive young son), Maximo woos a wealthy, middle-aged lady (Renee Taylor). Twenty-five years later, Maximo (now played by Derbez) is living a blissful Richie Rich life, except that he has to sleep with a very old lady. A battalion of servants attends to his every wish, even turning his poolside lounger to follow the sun or turning the pages of his e-reader. He never even has to take a step: he glides through the mansion on a hoverboard. The most exercise he gets every day is reaching over to his wife every morning so he can put a mirror under her nose to see if she is still breathing. And maybe pointing to the new sportscar he says he is buying for her but is really buying for himself.

Unfortunately, the car salesman sells himself along with the car, and Maximo is out on the street with nothing but a faint memory of an ironclad pre-nup. He needs a new old lady to marry, and until then he needs a place to stay. Which is how he ends up knocking on the door of his sister Sara (Hayek), a widow with a young son, Hugo (Alejandro). Many slapstick encounters ensue, including a guy in a wheelchair getting hit by a car three different times, a tenderhearted girl getting shredded by her cats, but mostly about Maximo helping Hugo talk to Arden, the girl he has a crush on (Mckenna Grace of “Gifted”) so he can make a move on Arden’s rich grandma, played by Raquel Welch. Yes, let that sink in for a moment: Raquel Welch. Also, some guys want to beat him up but I don’t need to say why because you can assume that pretty much everyone is on their side by this point. I’m guessing you will be, too, when I explain that in addition to the wheelchair “joke,” it is also supposed to be humorous that Maximo removes a disabled character’s prostheses and that when he tries to dye his hair with shoe polish and dives into the pool, everyone things, well, you know what’s hard to tell from Shinola. I’d say the same for this screenplay.

Parents should know that this movie has material that pushes the limits of PG-13 with a lot of crude humor and comic peril and violence. There is very strong language, some to a child, alcohol, sexual references and situations, and “humor” about disabilities.

Family discussion: Was any of Maximo’s advice to Hugo worth following? Why did Maximo choose that career?

If you like this, try: “Stuck on You” and “Shallow Hal”

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Comedy

In a World….

Posted on August 15, 2013 at 3:19 pm

Writer/director/star Lake Bell has produced a smart, fresh, and funny film that sends up Hollywood, sexism, and the conventions of the romantic comedy and yet somehow has us rooting for the characters to find a happy ending.  And she has given juicy roles to a great collection of performers who are too often overlooked — starting with herself.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BpFNTvA93iY

Bell plays Carol, a voice coach and would-be voiceover announcer, the daughter of Sam (Fred Melamed), a very successful voiceover artist well known for his work narrating movie trailers.  The death of Don LaFontaine, the acknowledged leader of this small and very competitive field, has left a perceived opening.  According to this film, LaFontaine’s signature opening, “In a world….” is about to be revived for a new “Hunger Games”-like “quadrilogy,” and the job of narrating the trailers is considered the ultimate achievement.  Sam has just told Carol she cannot live with him any more because his young girlfriend is moving in.  So, Carol has gone to sleep on the couch in the small apartment her sister Dani (Micheala Watkins) shares with her work-at-home husband, Moe (Rob Corddry).lake-bell-in-a-world

Sam is advising up-and-coming voice artist Gustav (Ken Marino), positioning him to take over the big “In a world…” job.  But a temp track recorded by Carol has captured the attention of the studio, and she finds herself in the running for an unprecedented opportunity to be a female voice on a movie trailer.  This makes sense as the quadrilogy is about mutant Amazons, but the established tradition is for a deep, rumbling, male “voice of God” narrator.

Bell makes first-timer mistakes in trying to pack too many ideas into the film, but she does a masterful job of keeping it all in balance.  She serves the other actors as a director better than she does herself.  Carol is sometimes just too much of a clueless, klutz.  But when she shows a young professional woman that taking like a teenager with a question inflection at the end of every sentence how important it is to own your voice, it is clear to us that this movie shows how well she owns hers.

Parents should know that this film has very strong language including crude sexual references and some non-explicit sexual situations with some poor choices.

Family discussion:  Why don’t trailers use women narrators?  What do we learn from Carol’s conversation in the ladies’ room?

If you like this, try: the documentary about voiceover artists, “I Know That Voice”

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Comedy Family Issues
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