The Undeniable Charm Of ‘How To Be A Latin Lover’ (FILM REVIEW)

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There’s something so charming about watching Eugenio Derbez on screen. When you watch him you immediately understand why he’s one of the most successful Spanish-speaking movie stars of all time. He has an irrefutable charisma, a kind of inescapable likability that makes it nearly impossible to dislike him.

It’s fitting then, that in his new film, How To Be A Latin Lover, he plays someone of questionable moral character, but who you can’t help but root for nonetheless. Derbez stars as Maximo, a sort-of gigolo who’s gotten by the last several years being married to a much, much older woman of considerable wealth. As Maximo’s been reaping the benefits of the good life, including servants, luxury cars, and a wall full of hoverboards, he comes home one day to find his sugar mama cheating on him.

Distraught and with nowhere else to go, he moves in with his sister, Sara (Salma Hayek), and her young son Hugo (Raphael Alejandro). Maximo spends some quality time with Hugo, taking him under his wing to show him the finer points of seduction. Once Hugo confesses to Maximo that he has a crush on his classmate, Maximo sees an opportunity in the girl’s grandmother, Celeste (Raquel Welch).

While Maximo appears to be tutoring Hugo in the ways of love, he’s secretly using him to get closer to Celeste so he can move back into a mansion and continue his life of privilege.

Sure, it’s not exactly the most groundbreaking plot, but between Derbez’ inherent likability, and a supporting cast that includes Kristen Bell, Michael Cera, and a quartet of Robs (Lowe, Riggle, Huebel, and Corddry), there’s more than enough talent to keep the laughs coming. It’s also the first time in the director’s chair for veteran comedian Ken Marino, whose on-camera talents definitely translates to his work behind the camera.

What’s perhaps most impressive about How To Be A Latin Lover is Derbez’ shear ambition. As he mentioned in my interview with him earlier this week, Derbez is looking to crossover to English-speaking U.S. audiences, while still appealing to his massive Spanish-speaking fanbase.

He manages to pull this off by balancing a kind of humor that bridges the cultural divide, allowing for both a spectacle-oriented screwball comedy and an emotionally grounded story. It’s a delightful mix of humor and sentiment that has a near-universal appeal. Here’s hoping we see more of Derbez and his work in the future.

How to Be a Latin Lover is now playing in theaters everywhere.

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