FLAMIN’ HOT tells the life story of Richard Montañez, a Mexican American boy who becomes a very successful executive for Frito Lay by inventing flaming hot versions of Frito Lay snacks. Streaming on Hulu and Disney Plus, the movie shows Richard’s difficult life as a Mexican American living in the greater Los Angeles area. It shows how he met his future wife, Judy, and how he joined a gang as a teenager. When Judy gets pregnant in 1982, Richard gives up the gang life and gets a job at Pepsi Frito Lay. He and Judy become Christians, and Richard comes up with an idea to create flaming hot Frito products.
FLAMIN’ HOT is a powerful story of how a poor person can succeed in a free market society. You can succeed if you put your mind to it, especially with a little help from your friends and family. The movie contains strong positive Christian content, though some Christians are hypocritical and must grasp the love of Jesus. FLAMIN’ HOT contains some reverse racism and white stereotypes, however, plus some foul language.
(BB, CapCap, CC, PC, RH, LL, V, AA, DD, M):
Dominant Worldview and Other Worldview Content/Elements:
Primarily free enterprise, you can succeed if you put your mind to it, with a little help from your friends and go from poor to rich, with some strong, positive Christian content, some prayers tied to lighting of prayer candles, father goes from alcoholism to finding Jesus but becomes dogmatic and accusatory so son blows up at him, positive representation of Christianity, some hypocritical Christianity, and some maturing in faith in Jesus Christ, with some politically correct revisionist history such as falsely blaming President Reagan for hurting Hispanics’ economic situation, some racist stereotyping, some bashing of white police officers for picking on Mexicans, some bashing of other whites for picking on Mexicans, especially white schoolchildren, and some funny attributing of Mexican accents to white business leaders in an exaggerated retelling of what happened in the story, father instructs son that his Mexican heritage is a superpower (if a white person said such a thing, the movie would be boycotted
Four light profanities, 12 obscenities (including “s” words and a** words)
Fantasy scene of beating up racist policemen that didn’t occur, threats of violence by gang members
Marital kissing, nothing else
Lots of drinking and father is an alcoholic but becomes reformed through faith, though his journey is a rocky one
Smoking and/or Drug Use and Abuse:
Some gang activity about selling drugs is a major plot point and hero; and,
Lead character gets caught by police several times, and a judge tells him he’s got to change his life, and gang leader tells him now that he has a baby he has to change his life.
FLAMIN’ HOT tells the life story of a Mexican American boy named Richard Montañez, who becomes a very successful executive for Frito Lay by inventing flaming hot Mexican versions of Frito Lay snacks. Streaming on Hulu and Disney+, FLAMIN’ HOT is a very powerful story of how someone can succeed in a free market society, but also contains racial stereotyping, some negative views of a new Christian and some foul language.
In 1966, Richard Montañez was a very poor Mexican boy whose family were agricultural workers. His father was a drunk who would often take out his anger on Richard. His mother believed in him when a couple of white boys at the school started mocking his burrito, which he was trying to share with a Mexican girl, Judy. His mother tells Richard to bring an extra burrito so the white boys can try it. One white boy is teased into trying it and loves it. So, Richard starts selling his burritos at school, and he accumulates a lot of money. When he goes to the store to buy Judy some chocolate, the white store clerk accuses him of being a thief, and the police arrest him.
Throughout all these events in the movie, Richard has fantasies such as, if they treated him as they would a white boy, they would say congratulations for being so industrious, and the police would comment him. A lot of the movie is also voiceover where Richard he says that, if the police are going to treat you like a criminal, you might as well act like a criminal. So, he starts stealing and in his teenage years joins a gang, where he is the best salesman of serious drugs, which becomes a plot point later in the movie when he apologizes for his pre-Christian activities.
When Judy gets pregnant in 1982, Richard gives up the gang life and tries to get a real job, which is extremely difficult, with some people calling him a wetback. His father, when he accepts Christ, digs into him and tells him he’s got to accept Christ and that Richard has always been a failure. Richard makes fun of his wife lighting a prayer candle, but the next day, the former gang leader, Tony, tells him to go to Frito Lay for a job.
The reception woman at Frito Lay gives Richard an application, which he can’t even fill out because of his illiteracy. He has to take it home to Judy to fill it out. When he returns for an appointment, the manager catches him in a lie when he said he graduated from the same high school the manager attended. Even with being exposed, he convinces the manager to hire him as a janitor. With his natural curiosity and ambition, Richard keeps asking about the machines and befriends an up and coming African American man, Clarence Baker, who taught himself engineering.
Pepsi, which owns Frito Lay, isn’t doing well. So, Roger Enrico, the head of Pepsi Frito Lay, does a video for all of their manufacturing plants. At the Cucamonga plant, Richard is the only one who watches it and fantasizes that Roger is talking to him and telling him to think like a CEO. As a result of that and of his young son tasting some hot sauce and saying it’s a “good hot,” he comes up with the idea for flaming hot Frito products that will capture the rapidly growing Mexican market. He calls Roger, the CEO, and Roger decides to visit the plant to talk to Richard. He recognizes the importance of Richard’s idea, and the rest is history, which includes a few more serious obstacles and triumphs.
Since two of MOVIEGUIDE®’s supporters were elderly women whose father owned Pepsi Frito Lay, some of us were very well aware of the real story, which diverges from the book Richard wrote, which was adapted into the movie by friends of MOVEIGUIDE®. In reality, the owner of Pepsi Frito Lay was a very strong evangelical Christians who was very positive about Richard’s ideas, even though he was a janitor. In fact, the owner grew up picking cotton and had a powerful story of succeeding against all odds himself. The movie shows this, but it creates more tensions, conflicts and resolutions to be more exciting. If you don’t know the true story, you could pick up some bad information from this movie, such as the accusations of racism, which turn out to be reverse racism. On the other hand, the movie shows answered prayer, Richard and Judy growing in Christ once they turn to him, as well as the father being saved and turning into a better Christian after his first hypocritical days. The free market aspect of the movie is outstanding, even though there’s a link between the gang activity and the free market capitalism, which is visualized in the movie. Overall, FLAMIN’ HOT is a wonderful movie for teenagers and up, if you discuss with them that stereotyping or reverse stereotyping are wrong, although they do create more drama.
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