Saturday, 6 May 2017

TAKE ME HOME: ‘Latin Lover’ seduces and reasonably satisfies

HOUSE RULES: Sara (Hayek) lays down the law as Maximo (Derbez) looks on.

Smart, well-acted and entertaining, How to Be a Latin Lover is the surprise hit comedy of the season. It wins you over with its unabashed exploration of family ties and romance – and features a solid cast led by Eugenio Derbez, Salma Hayek and Rob Lowe.

Written by the talented duo of Jon Zack and Chris Spain, and helmed by Ken Marino, this very funny movie (with intermittent Spanish subtitles) follows Maximo (Derbez), a washed-up, self-centred gigolo, who gets kicked out of the house by his geriatric lady love of 25 years Peggy, who replaces him with a young, fast-talking a car salesman (Juno’s Michael Cera).

Penniless and humiliated, Maximo, a looker in his youth who had all the ladies going ga-ga, has no one to turn to but his younger sister Sara (the always welcome Hayek), an overwhelmed single mother raising a whip-smart little boy named Hugo (Raphael Alejandro, terrific) and striving for her big break at the firm where she works as a junior architect. So Maximo is the last interruption she needs in her life. 

One night crashing at Sara’s place turns into weeks and months. Playing Uncle Maximo, he bonds with the kid (teaching him how to score with girls at school) while trying to get back into the gigolo game with some help from his buddy Rick (Lowe). When he encounters Celeste (Racquel Welch, divine), Maximo decides he has found his next conquest. But, as you can imagine, it all gets very awkward – and messy. Has Maximo, the great Latin lover, lost the magic touch for good? 

With How to Be a Latin Lover, Marino is clearly aiming for a triumph on the level of Pedro Almodovar’s oeuvre, and while he comes respectably close, the film has its moments that are nothing short of cringe-worthy. Still, you can’t deny its irrepressible comedic punch and a winning chemistry among the actors, especially Hayek and Derbez, who plays the former heartthrob with just the right blend of ego and eccentricity. 

Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars) rounds out the cast as Cindy, a sweet-treat shop girl (and future cat lady!) who offers Maximo some emotional support. 

Overall, How to Be a Latin Lover is an enjoyable date-night comedy that will teach you a thing or two about the skills of seduction and the laws of attraction. It seduces and, for the most part, satisfies. Tyrone’s Verdict: B

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