Flamin Hot (2023) Movie Review – Red hot rags-to-riches “true story” is blasé fiction

Red hot rags-to-riches “true story” is blasé fiction

If there was a blueprint for “plucky poor guy stars in sentimental rags to riches drama”, Flamin Hot is as good a template as any. There’s even the obligatory “based on a true story” at the start too. The trouble is, Flamin Hot is not a true story, it’s blasé fiction. There are parts of this story that ring true, no doubt, but the main narrative is completely made up… and that’s a problem.

The story centers on Richard Montanez, a down and out guy who’s had rotten luck his whole life. Struggling to fit in, and turning to a life of crime, Richard eventually turns his life around when he becomes a janitor at Frito Lay factory.

Whilst there, he slowly disrupts the food industry, saving the factory from ruin in the wake of an economic downturn. Channeling his Mexican heritage to help create Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, he singlehandedly saves the company and turns the savory snack into an iconic global brand. It’s your typical rags to riches story, complete with all the bells and whistles that go with that.

Even with the knowledge that our protagonist, Richard Montanez, did not invent the spicy, flamin hot crisps (chips) we’ve come to know and love like this film portrays, there’s very little flavour to this drama. Instead, what we get is a bland narrative that feels more like a tick box than a genuinely moving and emotionally stirring journey.

Richard has very few set-backs along the way and the ones he does have are easily resolved with a little pep-talk from his friends or family. There’s also a lot of montages in here, along with narration, quirky cutaways and the obligatory “parents disapprove until they don’t” subplot too.

This story of a man who rose up the ranks from a janitor to become a Director would have made a great movie on its own, but to add in the fictional account of Flamin Hot Cheetos is disappointing – especially without ever acknowledging that. And it doesn’t help that the direction is just not very good.

There’s no emotional resonance with Richard and that’s partly thanks to the over embellishment of our protagonist being this downtrodden underdog. And although we’re told that the family have money troubles, we don’t really see it. And that is, of course, the number 1 rule for any story – show, don’t tell. When you compare this story to something like Pursuit of Happyness, Flamin Hot is embarrassingly subpar.

But what makes it worse is the way this film perpetuates a lie and tries to present it as fact. We’ve seen this a lot in the film industry lately and it’s more frustrating here because Richard Montanez did actually rise the ranks at Frito Lay to become a respectable figurehead. But did he create the flamin hot brand? Absolutely not.

Unfortunately, Flamin Hot is not even mild, it’s a bland, blasé picture designed to get streams on Disney+ rather than telling a compelling story. Skip this one.


 Read More: Flamin Hot Ending Explained

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  • Verdict - 3.5/10

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