By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Campy 'How to be a Latin Lover' is flawed but surprisingly sweet
Raphael Alejandro and Eugenio Derbez in How to Be a Latin Lover. - photo by Josh Terry
"HOW TO BE A LATIN LOVER" 2 stars Eugenio Derbez, Salma Hayek, Rob Lowe, Kristen Bell; PG-13 (crude humor, sexual reference and gestures and brief nudity); in general release

How to Be a Latin Lover can be seedy, but its a lot sweeter than you might expect.

Directed by Ken Marino, Latin Lover revolves around the misadventures of Maximo, a middle-aged boy toy suddenly faced with reality. As a child, shortly after the sudden and absurdly comic death of his father, Maximo (Eugenio Derbez) decided what he wanted out of life: to sponge the high life off rich old ladies.

Thirty-five years and a fleet of sports cars later, things are going right according to plan. But when a 25-year marriage to an independently wealthy older woman named Peggy (Rene Taylor) comes to a sudden end, Maximo finds himself out on the street.

His best friend and fellow gigolo (Rob Lowe) cant help him, so Maximo turns to his sister Sara (Salma Hayek), who he hasnt spoken to in more than a decade. Maximos charms arent what they once were, but they are enough to get him an air mattress on his 10-year-old nephew Hugo's (Raphael Alejandro) floor while he plans his next move.

Opportunity comes in the form of Celeste (Raquel Welch), another single woman with a generous bankroll. Her driver (Rob Corddry) prevents Maximo from making a traditional approach, but then Maximo discovers that Celestes 10-year-old granddaughter Arden (Mckenna Grace) just happens to be the object of Hugos affections.

Gratefully, Latin Lover is a comedy, so watching Maximo manipulate his poor nephew in order to get at Celeste isnt quite as distasteful as it might appear on paper. Its pretty obvious early on that Marinos film is about Maximos redemption, and sure enough, our protagonist eventually figures out that lifes best rewards come from selflessness rather than selfishness.

The positive message and some flashes of genuine comedy are offset with several flat moments, a running time that feels dragged out, and a predictable plot. But as a second-option matinee or just a lighthearted change of pace, Latin Lover is pretty fun when it wants to be. Its best moments far and away involve Maximo training Hugo to win Ardens heart, and the scenes between the two kids will make you forget most everything else.

Derbez hits a nice balance between sleazy and sincere, and Hayek works well as his grounded and responsible foil. (A subplot about her budding romance with her neighbor is also fun.) Latin Lover also features a lineup of familiar faces in featured supporting roles, like Kristen Bell as a frozen yogurt shop manager with a bizarre cat fetish, and Rob Riggle and Rob Huebel as a pair of seedy, spandex-clad car wrap salesmen who get Maximo in their bro sights.

Due to the subject matter which stays safely in the PG-13 range Latin Lovers kind heart isnt quite going to be appropriate for younger audiences but, played for laughs, Maximos cringe-worthy underworld shouldnt make older audiences feel too uncomfortable.

How to Be a Latin Lover may not make anyones list of all-time favorite comedies, but it might make for an under-the-radar surprise for some audiences, and it fits nicely in that wide comedy gap between the worlds of the minions and Judd Apatow.

"How to Be a Latin Lover" is rated PG-13 for crude humor, sexual references and gestures and for brief nudity; running time: 117 minutes.
Sign up for our e-newsletters