Magazine article Screen International

'How to Be A Latin Lover': Review

Magazine article Screen International

'How to Be A Latin Lover': Review

Article excerpt

An ageing gigolo gets his comeuppance in the latest from comic Eugenio Derbez, with Salma Hayek, Kirsten Bell, Rob Lowe and Michael Cera in support

Dir: Ken Marino. US. 2017. 115mins

Starting off as a strained farce before segueing into a sappy family film, How To Be A Latin Lover has its likeable, goofy moments, although it is consistently undercut by a main character who is very difficult to love. Eugenio Derbez plays a selfish gold-digger who gets a dose of reality when his rich, older wife kicks him out of her bed after 25 years, but very little hilarity ensues. Nice turns from Salma Hayek and newcomer Raphael Alejandro prove a faint distraction from a predictable, uninspired story of one more cad who learns how to be a passable human being.

Salma Hayek's comic exasperation provides an intermittent stream of gentle laughs.

Opening April 28 in the States and May 5 in Mexico, this Pantelion release hopes to repeat the success of 2013's low-budget comedy Instructions Not Included ($100m worldwide), which also paired Derbez with a child co-star. Latin Lover sports a plethora of hip comic actors such as Kristen Bell, Rob Lowe, Michael Cera and Rob Corddry in small supporting roles, which may help the movie serve as a lightweight alternative before action blockbusters start dominating the multiplex again.

Maximo (Derbez) has devoted his life to seducing rich, lonely women, becoming their stay-at-home husbands who never have to work again. But after decades married to a wealthy widow, he is dumped when she falls for a younger man, forcing this ageing lothario to find a way to support himself without any marketable skills. In desperation, he moves in with his estranged baby sister Sara (Hayek) and her son Hugo (Alejandro), a very bright and sensitive 10 year-old who's nervous around girls.

The feature debut of Ken Marino, who has been part of the cast of cult TV comedies like Childrens Hospital and Party Down, Latin Lover is a knowingly broad laugher that specialises in the same kind of improvised, absurdist humour that's a hallmark of Marino's other work.

With writers Jon Zack and Chris Spain, he initially focuses on sending up the clichés of the cocksure Latin lady-killer, mocking Maximo's pathetic existence once his wife leaves him with nothing. Derbez plays the character as a total heel, emphasising Maximo's utter self-centeredness and disdain for working-class life. But as Maximo plots his next conquest, a wealthy grandmother played by Raquel Welch, he comes to realise just how sad it is for a pudgy, greying guy in his 40s to pretend he's still a suave heartthrob. …

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