Movie Synopsis

Flamin’ Hot – Recap of the SXSW 2023 Film Festival

Blazing hot2023

Directed by Eva Longoria.
Starring Jesse Garcia, Annie Gonzalez, Dennis Haysbert, Matt Walsh, Tony Shalhoub, Bobby Soto, Pepe Serna, Emilio Rivera, Vanessa Martinez, Jimmy Gonzales, Eric Marq, Fabian Alomar and Hunter Jones.


Blazing hot is the story of Richard Montañez, Frito Lay’s caretaker, who used his Mexican-American heritage and upbringing to transform Flamin’ Hot Cheetos into a snack that disrupted the food industry and became a global phenomenon.

A movie about the eponymous, popular snack Frito-Lay with spicy Cheetos sounds filling on paper for a number of reasons; virtually everyone has at least tried to eat one, a biopic about a snack inventor sounds refreshing given the genre’s quintessential themes, and there’s an inspirational story that fulfills the proverbial American Dream of Mexican-American family man Richard Montañez (Jesse Garcia, who strives to be charismatic and charming, who struggles with awkward jokes and forced drama due to a rough script), who uses his maintenance job at the Frito-Lay factory as an environment to pursue bigger ambitions that his family can do better provide when they come to fruition. In theory, Blazing hot should be eaten up, but the execution leads to such a generic rags-to-riches narrative that it’s anything but sharp storytelling.

There’s no denying that there’s a story about a Mexican-American man who worked his ass off in a Frito-Lay factory for more than 10 years in the 1980s and 1990s, when racism in the workplace was far more lax (the entire infrastructure is set up like a high school canteen). , with wealthy white males sitting together and minorities typically at the bottom rung of that class system) and having fewer opportunities to climb the ladder to a better-paying corporate position is a potentially revealing story that can be told with inner intrigue , considering what he creates and above all how his eye for diversity, multicultural marketing and sheer daring despite the lack of education made his idea possible.

Directed by Eva Longoria (written by Lewis Colick and Linda Yvette and based on the memoirs by Richard Montañez A boy, a burrito and a cookie: from janitor to manager) opts for a traditional biopic narrative structure with a wealth of narrative, beginning with a crash course on Richard Montañez’s farm, which consists of intense labor and physical abuse at the hands of his father, Vacho (Emilio Rivera). His Mexican heritage makes him an outsider at school, but he befriends Judy (Annie Gonzalez), who is also ostracized. There’s also a first glimpse of his street-savvy intelligence, where he tricks bullies into eating a burrito, which they unsurprisingly discover is delicious.

As an adult, Richard has become a small-time, mostly harmless gangster whose narrative insists that the story not fall into stereotypical traps because of what happened. Of course, he wants to provide for Judy and his children more honorably, hence the Frito-Lay job he gets with the help of his wife, as he cannot understand what some terms of the form mean.

This isn’t a movie that takes itself too seriously, but there’s a light-hearted comedic tone that doesn’t do Jesse Garcia any favors. His performance is much more natural and engaging when he’s more dramatic, such as going above and beyond the ranks, pitching his snack idea directly to PepsiCo CEO Roger Enrico (Tony Shalhoub), or self-doubting due to setbacks or his lack of education.

There are also compelling scenes with a black colleague (Dennis Haysbert) who has reached a decent position at the factory, with Richard turning to him for advice and support on how to impress and improve his position. It’s also 45 minutes away, but combining spices and flavors for the new snack brand is a fun aspect that works, and that’s what one wishes for Blazing hot focused more on the creation itself rather than acting as a standard time warp biopic ticking off various events. Everything else feels more like a forced questionable story where the challenge isn’t necessarily felt, which could be a side effect of being technically an untrue true story (whatever that means).

The drama is sanitized, the story often feels cheesy rather than engaging and moving, and as much as I hate to say it, Richard Montañez is a shallow and boring character, and it’s easy to imagine the ins and outs of his life and of his journey are more interesting than that. Jesse Garcia is fine to portray him, despite a few minor caveats, but Eva Longoria has created a simple and listless narrative that falls short of the heart of what makes the creation of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos so remarkable not only as a groundbreaking snack but for Richard’s groundbreaking work within Frito-Lay Corporation. The material is outdated and does not match Richard’s ambitions.

Blazing hot isn’t nearly as rancid as his Mountain Dew-flavored drink, which the filmmakers actually have the gall to advertise during the credits, but isn’t as flavorful and tasty as the Cheetos themselves. It’s more like a crumpled bag, in which broke half of the chips and you lost the amount inside.

Flickering Myth Rating – Movie: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★

Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the editor of Flickering Myth Reviews. Check here for new reviews, follow mine Twitter or letterboxd or email me at [email protected]


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