This empowering biopic is driven by a brisk pace and a charismatic performance from star García. That said, the film's insistence on idealizing its subject could leave some viewers unsatisfied.
Flamin' Hot is predictable but entertaining in its rags-to-riches tale featuring a Latino lead with a big heart, big ideas, and little cultural or financial capital. There's some creative visual storytelling, like putting dates on packages and chips on the factory floor to show time passing, or having García amusingly narrate executives' C-suite meetings using street slang as he imagines them bullying one another.
Music, editing, and Garcia's spirited performance infuse the film with energy.
García is the beating heart of this movie, narrating the tale and splashing his monologues and dialogues with Spanish expressions and terms. He's charismatic in the role, mirroring real Montañez, by all accounts.
That resourcefulness and relentless charm are part of his legend, although the facts around Montañez's version of his role in Frito-Lay history have been publicly scrutinized. The film opts to gloss over this, with brief scenes mentioning the invention and use of a lab-manufactured spicy powder, and end credits continuing the celebration of the real Montañez's family, life, and career.
That glossing over may or may not bother you. It doesn't make the film less entertaining in and of itself, and underestimating viewers' ability to grapple with grey areas hasn't seemed to pose a problem for much of contemporary Hollywood cinema.
Read the full review at Common Sense Media.
Images courtesy of Searchlight Pictures.