Genetically modified and never eaten by Brits, the product featured in feature-length biopic advert Flamin’ Hot does not sound too appetising. Still, Eva Longoria of Foodfight! and Sylvie’s Love fame is plonked into the director’s chair for her directorial debut. Blurring the line between actor and director as most are expected to do now, Flamin’ Hot is a safe house for the feature-length firing pistol to aim at. Anyway, not knowing what a Frito-Lay is does not matter all that much to a feature film directly recounting the birth of its supposed chokehold on world commerce. Capitalism plays the underdog card and presents Flamin’ Hot as the everyday man reaching beyond what is expected of him with an idea which will revolutionise house party crisp selections.
Ironic it may be to talk of spice when the characters are so plain, Flamin’ Hot opens with spiralling, sped-up shots of life in the kitchen. Cuisine on screen is a delight most of the time yet here it feels terribly underbaked. Frying off its potential, never quite getting to grips with the breakneck pace and uninspired, overdone narration from leading man Jesse Garcia, there is something to be said for letting a story breathe and speak for itself. Not much of this happens here. Interjections from Garcia, recalling a story from the table of a restaurant at the peak of his invention and financial class, looks back on the uphill struggle he faced. Inevitable and truthful this may be, there is nothing Garcia nor Longoria do to make it an interesting or unique rise.
Unremarkable relatives and inevitable moments of personal strife which hit at the underlying issues of the modern day, it is played out with safety first moments. Flamin’ Hot deals with racism and bullying in the stressed-out working-class groups it hosts with all the presence and understanding its filler acoustic guitar gives it. There is no personable engagement here, just a flutter of emptiness and all the right tricks and stops pulled out to advance the plot. Going through the motions, giving Matt Walsh an unconvincing hairpiece for the stressed-out floor manager of some distant and generic factory, Flamin’ Hot truly struggles to bring in any sense of impressionable or interesting message. A shame too considering its angle, its message and the reasoning for telling this story now.
Doing well enough to at least not perform the act of feature-length advertisement for products, Flamin’ Hot is an uninteresting effort which plays ball with the usual biopic format. Most films do but those are stuffed full of actual characters rather than dull montage shots about angry salesmen. Twenty minutes later and the magnum opus is present, product on the shelves and unpurchased. It is the plight of capitalism and such success is usually levelled at those who do not deserve it. Pride before the fall of BlackBerry is where it is, not Flamin’ Hot, which hopes to hold out hope on an underdog story where the individual is represented by the brand and the brand is massive. Longoria fails to bring in the personable story of tightening the belt and trying to keep on pushing, even though all the pieces are there. No life in them, no flaming passion beyond the cheap feeling found in this cliché-ridden script of patchy dialogue and strained supporting performances.