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How to Be a Latin Lover (2017)
Blu-ray Disc Released: 8/15/2017
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 8/10/2017
The term foreign film used to be very simple. If a movie came from another country, then it was considered a foreign film. Then, the Academy changed "Best Foreign Film" to "Best Foreign Language Film". This change coincided with a recognition by the film industry and the theater chains that the United States truly had become the diverse melting pot that it was always supposed to be and that people born in other countries would like to (legally) see movies in their native languages, so we started seeing more truly foreign films playing in theaters and coming to home video (and now, finding their place on streaming services). How to Be a Latin Lover blurs those lines as it was made in America, but is clearly aimed at an international audience.
As How to Be a Latin Lover opens, we see the young Maximo meets and seduces the older and richer Peggy (Renee Taylor). The story then jumps ahead 25 years, where we see that Maximo (Eugenio Debrez) is completely addicted to a leisurely lifestyle and allows servants and his hoverboard to do everything for him. This all change when Peggy meets a younger man and kicks Maximo out. He is forced to move in with his sister, Sara (Salma Hayek), and her young son, Hugo (Raphael Alejandro). While Sara feels that Maximo should get a job, he is determined to find another sugar mama as soon as possible. But, as he gets to know Hugo and observes Sara's life, he begins to realize that he may want more.
Eugenio Debrez may not be a household name, but he's certainly had a successful career. The Mexican-born actor has a long track record in his native country in both film and television, while he's also made some appearances in American projects, such as Jack and Jill and the short-lived Rob. His 2013 film, Instructions Not Included, which is in Spanish, cost a reported $5 million and made $44 million at the box office. So, it's not surprising the Debrez would be tapped to star in his own Hollywood vehicle. The interesting thing about the movie is that it doesn't throw out Debrez's roots, as a good portion of the film is in Spanish and it certainly throws in some Mexican cultural touches.
What is surprising is how pedestrian most of the story is. From beginning to end, the script by Chris Spain and Jon Zack never deviates from a very predictable course. Once Peggy lets Maximo go and he's forced to live with Sara, things go exactly where we think that they will. I can understand why the studio would want Debrez's introduction to a larger audience to be something generally palatable, but this may have swung too far in the other direction, especially given the fact that the movie runs nearly two hours.
So, it's a good thing that How to Be a Latin Lover sprinkles in a liberal dose of fun. While we know what's going to happen in every scene from a story perspective, there are many moments here which will surprise the viewer with either their bawdiness or their playfulness. Playing the role of Maximo with a sense of superiority and apathy, Debrez has some great lines here and also performs some nice physical comedy. His timing is very good and he makes Maximo a lovable jerk, and I certainly laughed out loud several times. The movie marks the feature film directing debut of actor Ken Marino and he's clearly gone through his Rolodex and assembled an amazing cast of familiar faces. (There's actually an extra about this on the Blu-ray Disc.) I won't name the actors here, as it would take up too much space, but there's a lot of people in this movie that you'll recognize.
I'll be the first to admit that I was unaware of Derbez dominance of the international scene. But, I found How to Be a Latin Lover charming enough that I'll be on the lookout for his next project. I also liked the diverse nature of the film and the way in which it is clearly attempting to reach out to many audiences at once. You can't please everyone, but I feel that this is the future of entertainment.
How to Be a Latin Lover perfects its walk on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Lionsgate. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 35 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no grain and no defects from the source materials. This is a very colorful movie and the tones look great here, most notably the pastels, and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail works well, as does the depth. Overall, a nice visual presentation. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The musical score sounds very good, as it fills the speakers and we can pick out individual instruments. The party scene offers some noticeable surround and stereo effects, but other than the music there isn't much subwoofer action here.
The How to Be a Latin Lover Blu-ray Disc offers several extra features. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director Ken Marino, Producer Ben Odell, and Editor John Daigle. "Show Me Your Sexy! Learning How to Be a Latin Lover" (18 minutes) traces the origin of the film, starting with Writers Chris Spain and Jon Zack discussing the script and Derbez giving his input. We then hear from Marino and the other cast members and we get some on-set footage. "A Little Help from My Friends" (11 minutes) documents how Marino enlisted his friends from the acting world to fill out key roles. The Disc contains twenty-three DELETED AND EXTENDED SCENES which run about 34 minutes. This does offer the entire version of Weird Al's cameo performance.
Review Copyright 2017 by Mike Long