This is the inspiring true story of Richard Montañez who as a Frito Lay janitor disrupted the food industry by channeling his Mexican heritage to turn Flamin’ Hot Cheetos from a snack into an iconic global pop culture phenomenon.


Chuck says:

Pam says

We all remember Eva Longoria as Gabrielle from “Desperate Housewives” and so many other roles, but now, after being in front of the camera for most of her career, she takes a seat in the director’s chair to give us a story that is at once inspirational as well as entertaining.  Based on the now-controversial true story of Richard Montanez, a janitor whose determination and vision helped to create the spicy snack food from Frito Lay, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, it’s the American Dream come true.

We meet the young Richard as a school boy, picked on in school because of his ethnicity only to turn it around to be lucrative as he sold his strange yet tasty packed lunch called a burrito.  Fast-forward more than a decade and Richard (Jesse Garcia) finds himself traveling down a petty criminal path, in love with his high school sweetheart Judy (Annie Gonzalez), and now about to become a father.  Judy, a headstrong and intelligent woman takes the bull by the horns aka Richard, and turns him in the right direction of gaining respectable employment at the Frito-Lay/Pepsi Company as a janitor.  His interview with his soon-to-be boss Lonny (Matt Walsh) is one for the records as he’s caught in a few resume embellishments.  Undeterred, the exhausted Lonny hires Richard for this seemingly lowly position.

Richard and Judy barely make ends meet and the financial stresses weigh heavily upon them both.  Pulled in two different directions and battling his own inner demons planted by his formerly abusive but now bible-thumping father, Richard’s zest for life cannot be squashed.  We watch as Richard attempts to gain knowledge thanks to his friendship with Clarence Baker (Dennis Haysbert), self-taught engineer at the factory.  Landing upon a concept that Richard thinks can not only catapult his own career but save jobs during a recession, he bypasses all the powers that be to pitch his idea to the president and CEO, Roger Enrico (Tony Shalhoub).  Himself an immigrant, Roger listens to Richard who just may be the person to corner an ever-growing market: the Hispanic one.

Yes, we’ve all tried the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and other snacks — some of us loving the taste and others attempt to put out the fire in our mouths — but this origin story is what dreams are made of.  It’s the American Dream where anyone can succeed if they try.  Richard is at once a likable character even when he’s making bad choices.  He’s got a good heart but the deck is stacked against him.  We respect Judy and know that with her by his side, he can and will live up to his potential if given a shot.  And we adore his kids, the youngest (Brice Gonzalez) who taste tests every batch to find just the right flavor.  “Is it a good burn or a bad burn?”

Garcia plays this role as lightly as possible with a touch of humor and always with heart.  We are rooting for him from the beginning and while we may know how this turns out, it’s the connection with Richard that hits home.  Pairing the feisty Gonzalez as his wife, it’s a match made in heaven.  Yes, Longoria plays this story safe as she glosses over some of the more unsavory aspects of life such as drugs and gangs, but that’s just fine as it allows this inspirational tale to be seen by a greater demographic of people.  She also keys into the humor in life, tapping into unlikely relationships between Richard and others like his boss.  This may be Longoria’s first time in the director’s chair, but it won’t be her last.  She knows how to tell a straight-forward story with love and precision.

“Flamin’ Hot” depicts the American Dream as it plucks all the right heartstrings to give us a family-friendly film filled with positive messages.

3 Stars


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