How to be a Latin Lover
Starring Eugenio Derbez, Selma Hayek, Rob Lowe, Kristen Bell, Raphael Alejandro, Michael Cera
When your film is directed by a former reality star, you can only expect so much. How to be a Latin Lover opens like a Ferell/Stiller type comedy, with an explosive death scene played for laughs rather than heartbreak. That low brow comedy remains through the entire film, nearly mirroring Adam Sandler’s Big Daddy. The “Latin lover” bit is basically just a title to sell the initial premise. This film is actually about a 50-year-old man growing up for the first time and reconnecting with his sister and nephew. Eugenio Derbez (Miracles From Heaven) plays the role very big and very loud, like the persona’s he’s known for in Mexico. “Once you lower your expectations, the sky is the limit,” great advice from our leading character.
Growing up poor, all Maximo (Derbez) ever wanted was to be rich. “You don’t get what you wish. You get what you work for,” Maximo’s father always said. He intends to prove that wrong by finding the oldest, richest woman to care for and reap the benefits. He uses a shiny yellow speedo and his Spanish accept to woo and 25 years later he lives in a million-dollar home, sunbathing with his own servants. However, everyone is replaceable and his sugar mama, trades him in for a newer model, leaving him penniless, jobless and homeless. His sister Sara (Hayek) reluctantly takes him in, encouraging him to finally grow up. Maximo has his sights set on a new meal ticket, and uses his little nephew Hugo (Alejandro) to get the introduction.
Honest laughs are tough to find, but offensive jokes are ubiquitous.
Twenty-seven minutes in you will be begging Hayak to knock some sense into Maximo with whatever blunt object she has handy. The script is over-the-top in every circumstance, playing everything for laughter until they try to turn on the feels in the third act. It’s too late, by the time we get there, despite all the stereotypical moments of Maximo and his nephew having some of the exact same conversations Sandler did with his adopted kid to win over a girl. Not even Hayek doing a drunk pajama dance, as the ice begins to melt between the siblings, can make this comedy worthwhile. In the realm of slapstick comedy, How to Be a Latin Lover far exceeds the average running time, making this unintelligent farce a pain to sit through at just over two hours.
If you have seen Ken Marino on screen (Masterminds, Goosebumps), the mostly television comedy actor directs this film with the same halfwit he brings to any character. Handicap people are the butt of many jokes; A man in a wheelchair is consistently hit by cars, being knocked over for laughs. The gag is repeated again and again, as if directed by a 10-year-old. Even Raquel Welch, despite her phenomenal plastic surgery, is the butt of jokes aimed at people with prosthetic limbs. Laughs are tough to find, but offensive jokes are ubiquitous. Supporting parts given to Marino’s former co-stars Lowe, Bell, don’t make the film any better.
All the ingredients of an Adam Sandler film, only with Latin flavors.