Featured Graphic by Destiny Mizell
Story by Larry Rincon
With so many big film franchises and major movie company movies hitting the big screens, it was time to take a break and find something new. After a rabbit hole of endless scrolling through Netflix, Max and Amazon Prime, this week’s review focuses on a hidden gem that many didn’t rave over.
On June ninth, the origin story of everyone’s favorite spicy chip came to light on Hulu and Disney+. However, for a story based on the truth, “Flamin’ Hot” showcases anything but that.
There’s nothing wrong with adapting a real story into a movie, but when it becomes blatantly obvious that the story has been dramatized, the audience’s attention span is about half way up.
The film follow’s Richard Montanez, the son of a Mexican immigrant, who goes from being a street thug to working his way up Frito-Lay. In the process, he ends up discovering the untapped potential of the Latino consumer market and goes to create the perfect spicy chip fit for the community.
The story is meant to show how Hot Cheetos came to be, but for the sake of keeping it entertaining a lot of comedy and personal drama was added to elevate the story. With that being said, there wasn’t necessarily anything wrong with the film.
For example, watching the film as a Mexican-American, there’s always this sense of pride watching someone from my community prove that we Mexi-Can get things done. On the other hand, from just an average audience member’s perspective, it balanced the comedy and the serious heartfelt moments well.
The biggest problem I faced watching this movie was realizing after about twenty minutes that this was not the story I was familiar with. Since its release, other news sources have been critiquing the film for being a bit of a stretch from the truth. However, while they care about who actually invented the Hot Cheeto, I care about the story we are looking at: Montanez’s story.
The first time I heard the story of the Hot Cheeto, the development of this movie had just been announced. The story of a hard working janitor climbing the business ladder, does not ring any bells for me. Instead, when I first heard the story of how the Hot Cheeto was created, the only thing I remembered from it was that the Hot Cheeto was more or less an accident.
This is an issue I find with a lot of movies based on true events or stories. When you know the story beforehand, it’s far more disappointing when that story is made into a circus of entertainment in comparison to seeing the movie without context.
With that being said, there is some truth to the story based on what I remember. Montanez and his family did add chile to a plain Cheeto puff. It may not have been the science experiment of trial and error portrayed in the film, but as a family they were together doing what Mexicans do best: adding chile to any food possible.
A lot of the film’s comedy is heavily based on the culture and mannerisms that Mexicans grow up in. First generation or later, there’s something familiar about the entire journey that Montanez goes through.
The additional themes of perseverance and family are vital to the story that Montanez is trying to tell. The journey to the creation of the Hot Cheeto could not have been told in this film without them.
Even though Hispanic Heritage Month is only a few months away, give “Flamin’ Hot” a try. It is a nice story with some truth as well as a great way to help elevate Latino voices in more than just Hollywood.
Regardless of who invented or created the Hot Cheeto, this is Montanez’s story, and this is the story he wanted to share with everyone— just like he mentioned in the film.
To contact Lifestyles Editor Destiny Mizell, email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more news, visit www.mtsusidelines.com, or follow us on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines or on Twitter at @MTSUSidelines.