When news went viral that a film about the making of the beloved cheesy snack Flamin’ Hot Cheetos was in development, it was treated as the punchline of a joke. However, as with the hero of the movie, you shouldn’t underestimate this lively biopic, a classic underdog story that proves the formula can still work.
While the directorial feature debut of actor Eva Longoria (Desperate Housewives) tells the origin story of America’s favourite corn snack, it is more interested in the man behind the nibbles, Richard Montañez. After a rough start in life, Montañez landed himself a janitor job at a Frito-Lay factory and gradually worked his way up to marketing executive, changing the company’s fortunes along the way with his role in the invention of the Flamin’ chow.
It’s hard not to root for Montañez, who is brought to the screen with warmth, charm, and depth by Jesse Garcia. When Montañez tells us that he has a PhD in being "poor, hungry, and determined" the line isn’t delivered with self-pity, but instead with quick wit and strong resolution.
Annie Gonzalez also impresses as his wife Judy, but where the film really comes alive is in the flair of its storytelling. Remember how Michael Peña’s Luis narrated stories in the first two Ant-Man movies? With some imaginative fantasy scenes, Flamin’ Hot takes that idea and runs wild with it, to great success.
There is some doubt as to the facts of the story (isn’t there always, with Hollywood biopics?), and Longoria hardly shakes up the biopic formula. But the result is a tasty treat that will satisfy a thirst for entertainment.