[Screen It]

(2017) (Eugenio Derbez, Salma Hayek) (PG-13)

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Comedy: After his rich wife of 25 years kicks him out for someone younger, a male gold digger moves in with his estranged sister and her young son while trying to find another wealthy woman he can latch onto.
Maximo (EUGENIO DERBEZ) has never wanted to work a day in his life but has desired the spoils of being rich, and for the past twenty-five years he's lived that sort of lifestyle thanks to the bankroll of his uber-wealthy spouse, Peggy (RENEE TAYLOR). But when she dumps him for a younger man, Remy (MICHAEL CERA), and he realizes he'll get nothing due to the previous prenup he signed, he first turns to his fellow gold digger friend, Rick (ROB LOWE), for help.

But that "boy toy" has his hands full with wealthy Millicent (LINDA LAVIN) and her unquenchable thirst for role playing, so Maximo has nowhere to turn but to his long-estranged and widowed sister, Sara (SALMA HAYEK). She's a junior architect who's raising her 10-year-old son, Hugo (RAPHAEL ALEJANDRO), by herself, and isn't quite sure whether she wants to open romantic channels with her friendly neighbor, James (MATHER ZICKEL).

Maximo is already on the lookout for a new but older and wealthy woman to return to his previous lifestyle, and he thinks he might have found just that sort of person when he drops off Hugo at his exclusive private school. While his nephew is interested in but too shy to talk to his fellow classmate, Arden (MCKENNA GRACE), Maximo immediately sets his sights on that girl's ultra-wealthy and recently widowed grandmother, Celeste (RAQUEL WELCH). But when he can't get past her protective driver, Quincy (ROB CORDDRY), he needs a new way to meet her, and the cash to do so.

Thus, he agrees to accept payment from mobile advertisers Scott (ROB RIGGLE) and Nick (ROB HUEBEL) to drive around in Sara's recently ad-wrapped car in turn for money to get into a charity event to meet Celeste. When that backfires, he realizes his only way in will be through his nephew's attraction to Arden, and thus sets out to teach the boy all about women and how to seduce them, including providing a demonstration on Cindy (KRISTEN BELL) who works at a frozen yogurt shop when not tending to a house full of rescue cats. As Maximo teaches his nephew the ropes, the two grow closer and Sara begins to accept her brother, all while Scott and Nick want their money back when Maximo removes their ads from his sister's car.

OUR TAKE: 3 out of 10
Maybe it's just me, but isn't there something uber-creepy, gross and just plain wrong about a 46-year-old man teaching a 10-year-old boy how to seduce women? Especially since some of that involves instructing the elementary school kid that one goal of that is directing attention toward one's crotch and that a confident walk is the best way to suggest you're good in bed.

Apparently those in front of and behind the camera for the film "How to be a Latin Lover" don't think so. Granted, the genre is a comedy (and a broadly played and sit-com style one at that) where the man (Eugenio Derbez) is a self-centered, egotistical, spoiled, and never-worked-a-day-in-his-life gold digger who's using his nephew (Raphael Alejandro) as a means of getting into the proximity of a wealthy widow (Raquel Welch) after his own rich wife (Renee Taylor) has suddenly dumped him for a much younger man (Michael Cera).

No, he's not teaching the kid how to seduce the former movie bombshell from (yikes) half a century ago. Instead, he's teaching the boy the ropes in regards to that woman's granddaughter (McKenna Grace) with whom young Hugo is smitten but too shy to do anything. Of course, young Arden is also pre-pubescent, so the icky factor raises its ugly and disconcerting head once more.

Perhaps with a better script than the one provided by Chris Spain and John Zack, this material might have worked, at least to some degree (Disclaimer -- other fingers could have gotten into the material and changed things from the original screenplay, as is oft the case). As it stands, however, it's the all-too-familiar story of self-centered misogynist who learns to be a better man while in the company of a kid and that boy's mother (Salma Hayek, who should have known better than to sign on to this).

That latter sentiment also holds true regarding Kristen Bell whose character and subplot (a frozen yogurt shop worker who's usually torn up by the rescue cats in her house) could have been jettisoned with absolutely no effect on the main plot. Rob Lowe and Linda Lavin are also wasted playing another gold digger and his kinky older lover (the "comedy" related to them revolves around her desiring sexual role playing -- none of which is remotely funny).

Meanwhile, Rob Riggle and Rob Huebel try way too hard to elicit laughs from equally lame material concerning them being mobile ad men who essentially turn into loan sharks and want their money back from the protagonist (which results in lots of clothed testicle grabbing). That, literal "pull my finger" fart jokes and other such lame material is what director Ken Marino tries to turn into comedy gold.

But it's all so broadly painted and played that you half-expect to hear a canned laugh track accompanying the jokes to show just about "funny" it is. The presumed warm and fuzzy moments don't work any better as they feel just as forced and artificial as the rest of what's offered.

Perhaps had all involved taken a full-on, no-holds-barred R-rated approach, this might have been salvageable. As it is with its PG-13 envelope, it's bad just about any way one looks at it, including the creepy ick factor. "How to be a Latin Lover" rates as just a 3 out of 10.

Reviewed April 24, 2017 / Posted April 27, 2017

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