Jesse Garcia in FLAMIN’ HOT. Photo by Emily Aragones. Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2023 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved.

It should come as no surprise that the story behind a revolutionary feel-good snack, would translate to potentially being one of the most feel-good movies of the year. That is what Eva Longoria is in sight of accomplishing with Flamin’ Hot. Longoria has plenty of experience behind the camera, but this is her first full-feature (non-documentary) movie, and she delivers the direction of a pro as she infuses this movie with energy, charisma, culture, and an infectious charm that will grab your heartstrings.

What stands out first is the lighthearted tone. This is the story of Richard Montañez (Jesse Garcia), a janitor at Frito Lay who used his passion for his heritage to create the Flamin’ Hot Cheeto. A fiery snack that would change the world of snack foods, save a floundering company, and earn Montañez a massive promotion. This movie could’ve easily fallen into the underdog business story tropes and took itself more seriously as it explores this man’s inspiring story. Much along the lines of something like The Founder from 2016.

Flamin’ Hot doesn’t do that. It goes the opposite direction, and the result is a fascinating look at this grass-roots mission and the determination it took to make an idea a reality, and more so the worldwide phenomenon it became. It focuses on the humor in nearly every situation while also dialing up the emotional beats in a timely way to create an engaging emotional balance. I said the tone was lighthearted but that in no way gets in the way of the focus being on celebrating the success and perseverance of Montañez and showcasing his beautiful marriage to Judy (Annie Gonzalez).

This is a crowd pleaser that pulls you in with open arms and takes you on an uplifting journey of unlikely success. You can’t help but love Montañez through the performance of Garcia. And like the movie says, ‘everyone needs a Judy’ and Gonzalez encapsulates that perfectly with such an endearing and humorous performance. The supporting cast is also very well-rounded, and everyone is able to amplify the charm of their characters. Matt Walsh, and Dennis Haysbert both make the most of recycled supporting character arcs. As does Monk himself, Tony Shalhoub who was so much fun in his smaller but vital role. Everyone is having a good time with this material, and it translates on screen so effectively to engage you.

Flamin’ Hot is a spirited biopic that also serves as a comedy and a heartwarming drama. The editing, the progression of the story, and the writing give this movie so much energy that it really feels like a one-of-a-kind biopic, to fit a one-of-a-kind snack. Flamin’ Hot will make you laugh. It will inspire. It will make you a little misty-eyed and most of all…it’ll make you want a bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos!

Grade: A

Copyright: Anthony J. Digioia - SilverScreen Analysis (2023) © All Rights Reserved.