How To Be A Latin Lover

Aging trophy husband Maximo (Eugenio Derbez) hasn’t lifted a finger in 25 years. He made it his goal to wife up a rich older woman and never work a day in his life, and he succeeded -- that is, until his sugar (grand)momma kicks him to the curb and leaves him with nothing. His only pal, a fellow gold digger named Rick (Rob Lowe), suggests that Maximo crash...read more

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Reviewed by Daniel Gelb
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Aging trophy husband Maximo (Eugenio Derbez) hasn’t lifted a finger in 25 years. He made it his goal to wife up a rich older woman and never work a day in his life, and he succeeded -- that is, until his sugar (grand)momma kicks him to the curb and leaves him with nothing. His only pal, a fellow gold digger named Rick (Rob Lowe), suggests that Maximo crash at his estranged sister’s apartment until he can find a new millionaire senior citizen to marry. Thus begins the generic, fish-out-of-water portion of How to Be a Latin Lover, a lightweight snoozer of a comedy from director Ken Marino that gets bogged down by sappiness.

Maximo does indeed shack up with his sister Sara (Salma Hayek, doing all she can) and her nerdy preteen son Hugo (Raphael Alejandro). Hugo has a crush on one of his classmates, yet unlike his suave uncle, he doesn’t know how to talk to girls. Maximo agrees to help Hugo learn the game of seduction, but only after realizing that Hugo’s crush has a filthy rich grandmother (the eternally regal Raquel Welch). Before he can stroll back onto easy street, though, Maximo must learn some Important Lessons about family and change his selfish ways.

Marino, seemingly aware of how unfunny his movie would be, used his rolodex of industry contacts to bolster Latin Lover with a parade of familiar faces (even Weird Al shows up, albeit in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-him cameo). Yet appearances from Kristen Bell, Michael Cera, Rob Riggle, and Rob Corddry do little to distract from the trite plot. Derbez, a massive star in Latin America, is certainly a charismatic screen presence, but this movie straightjackets him by forcing him into a conventional, feel-good narrative instead of letting him cut loose. Latin Lover does all it can to make Maximo impossible to root for in the first third, then demands that viewers feel invested in his sad-sack, penniless plight. Instead of diving into the buffoonery of a chubby ex-lothario, he’s suddenly presented as a caring and cool uncle.

There’s very little enjoyment to be had in watching an unrepentant, amoral gold digger learn lessons about family and loyalty. In the real world, of course, we’d love to see Maximo knocked down a few (thousand) pegs, but screenwriters Chris Spain and Jon Zack decided to turn this premise into a no-stakes morality trip rather than an opportunity for actual jokes. Also: A painfully archetypal riches-to-rags yarn like this shouldn’t need nearly two hours to amble along to its happy conclusion.

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  • Released: 2017
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Review: Aging trophy husband Maximo (Eugenio Derbez) hasn’t lifted a finger in 25 years. He made it his goal to wife up a rich older woman and never work a day in his life, and he succeeded -- that is, until his sugar (grand)momma kicks him to the curb and leaves… (more)

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