Flamin’ Hot Parent Guide
The narrative is formulaic but the movie still manages to be inspirational.
Parent Movie Review
Growing up the son of Mexican farm laborers in California, Richard Montañez (Jesse Garcia) dreams of success in this new country. But life is hard for immigrants in the 70s, when things as simple as getting a high school diploma or being considered for professional jobs are next to impossible thanks to pervasive racism and the gravitational pull of poverty. After spending some time in a gang dealing drugs, Richard and his wife Judy (Annie Gonzalez) decide to leave that dark world behind and try to build a life for themselves through hard work. This is easier said than done, but Richard does manage to get a job as a janitor in a Frito-Lay factory.
While working there, Richard comes up with a revolutionary idea: creating snacks with spicy flavor profiles that will appeal to the palates of the untapped Hispanic market. Though his coworkers all doubt him, Richard is determined to take his idea to the CEO of Frito-Lay and finally be taken seriously.
The story of the invention of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos has become a modern legend of the American Dream. An immigrant janitor who invents one of the best-selling snacks of all time? That’s nothing if not inspirational. Although the truth of this account has come under some scrutiny in recent years, there’s no denying the charisma and influence of the real-life Richard Montañez and his influence on multicultural marketing. This film tells his story, regardless of whether it’s entirely factual or not.
The film’s narrative is determinedly formulaic. Though inspirational, it doesn’t deviate from the tried-and-true rags to riches formula we’re all familiar with. That said, Garcia’s charisma is electric, and he carries the film effortlessly in spite of the conventional plot. There are some fun storytelling devices, such as Richard providing humorous voice over to what he imagines the corporate meetings looked like. Mexican-American culture is at the forefront in this production, including both the struggles and joys of that community. Immigrants of any culture will relate to the children who try to hide their Mexican-ness and blend in with their American peers, while their parents encourage them to be proud of their heritage.
Although they feel relatively generic, I think the inspirational themes of this story make it a great choice for adults and teens. There are some content concerns, such as a bit of swearing and some plot points around drug dealing. However, the drug dealing is shown to be a bad life choice that leads to criminal consequences, and characters who choose to move away from that life are lifted up as good role models. This film is a celebration of hard work, determination, familial support, and staying true to your heritage and identity in the face of social pressure. In other words, it’s a great choice for something to watch while you dig into your favorite snack, flamin’ hot or otherwise.Directed by Eva Longoria. Starring Tony Shalhoub, Jesse Garcia, Annie Gonzalez. Running time: 99 minutes. Theatrical release June 9, 2023. Updated June 10, 2023
Watch the trailer for Flamin’ Hot
Rating & Content Info
Why is Flamin’ Hot rated PG-13? Flamin’ Hot is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for some strong language and brief drug material.
Violence: A child is shown with a black eye as a result of bullying. There is some discussion of child abuse. A man humorously imagines beating up another man but doesn’t do it. Gang members push each other and start to fist fight, though mostly off screen.
Sexual Content: A married couple kiss.
Profanity: There are approximately seven mild and moderate expletives and three uses of terms of deity. A racial slur is used against a Mexican family.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adults drink in some scenes. A plot point revolves around drug dealing. People are seen divvying up pills in bags and there is some discussion about selling them. A man is shown to be an abusive alcoholic.
Page last updated June 10, 2023
Flamin’ Hot Parents' Guide
What are some qualities that Richard has that help him fulfill his dreams? How do the people around him, like his family, also demonstrate those qualities and support him? What challenges does he face and how does he overcome them?
Related home video titles:
Adapting to life in a new country while maintaining your culture is difficult. Movies that tackle the challenges facing Hispanic immigrants to America include McFarland USA, Chupa, West Side Story, and In the Heights.