Now what we have here is a semi-failure to communicate. After a great set up and hilarious first 20 minutes, this comedy turns into a meander, cliched additional half hour that goes unfortunately where it is expected to. HOW TO BE A LATIN LOVER could’ve been one of the first fantastic PG-13 comedies in a long time. The first 20 minutes showed completely that this didn’t necessarily need to be Rated R to be funny. This was supposed Eugenio Derbez’s big breakout from doing great Spanish comedies like the huge hit Instructions Not Included, to mixing it up with some American finesse and cast members, but the movie falls flat because of the cliches and familiar story. After the first 20 minutes, the movie is only sporadically amusing.
And I keep going on about the first 20 minutes, but trust me, those first 20 minutes are fantastic. In case you haven’t heard of this movie, it’s about a young man, at a very young age, wanting to just marry an older woman (basically be a trophy husband), never have to work while enjoying her riches, waiting for her to die, and then getting all the money to himself. We see him getting the older woman, him growing up himself, and what his life is like married to her, which is the first great part of the movie. But then instead of going the route it should’ve gone, which was she dies but he has to learn to work to keep up those riches that she earned during her lifetime, instead the movie has her cheat on him with Michael Cera (yeah, I know) and he has to stay with his estranged sister and his small 10 year old nephew (you see where this is going don’t you), and he tries to find another old rich wife, but also learns to…love the family he already has. Sigh.
You can tell why I sighed and maybe you signed as well while reading this. Why did this movie decide to go that familiar route? I mean the whole concept shows he doesn’t have to work for riches so why not flip that? Granted he has to work in this, but just enough to get by, and it barely shows him trying to scrounge up for money. It mainly goes the route of teaching his nephew inappropriate shit, they share a bond, so him and his sister, played by the gorgeous Selma Hayek, develop a bond too. And then you can guess that shit happens because of him that threaten to tear apart that bond, yada, yada, yada, redemption, yada, yada, yada, end of movie.
Maybe they had those great 20 minutes and didn’t know what the fuck to do with it, so they looked in the “Plain Screenwriting 101 Handbook,” and this is what they came up with. At least I can say that it isn’t Eugenio Derbez’s fault, because he didn’t write the movie, he just brought his charisma to it. And his charisma works because he is the most watchable part of the movie. In fact there is nothing wrong with any of the acting, the complete problem is the story. Selma Hayek is great in this and the son is great in this. Kristen Bell has a bit part as someone that tries to help Derbez when he’s down on his luck and she’s cute and lovable in what she does. But she isn’t hilarious. In another story, as another character, she could’ve been fantastic.
The film isn’t terrible, it’s just an amusing throwaway one time watch. Definitely not a must see theater watch, but maybe a rental surrounded by family and friends. Or hell, maybe I didn’t get much of the Spanish humor and maybe that’s why I didn’t enjoy it as much? No clue. This review is just my opinion. I would like to see Eugenio Derbez in more American stuff though. He is a great character actor and knows when to throw in a good punch line. It’s just the screenplay wasn’t filled with many of them.