The Mexican “40 Years Young (Cuarentones)” is a midlife crisis romantic dramedy that’s so slow that I had to check to make sure Netflix wasn’t experiencing screen-freeze.
Its 81 drab minutes pass by like a long, labored comic death rattle.
The cast is cute and seem to possess the light touch whatever they were going for requires. But nothing happens in this movie — nothing funny, nothing that dramatic, nothing particularly romantic. It’s 81 minutes of nada.
An opening scene establishes that Cesar (Erick Elias) and Paolo (Adal Ramones) are partners in a popular Mexico City Italian eatery, L’Allegria, where they’re not just the chefs, they’re the singing, joking, charming floor show. That’s one seriously open kitchen and one potentially entertaining way to connect with customers.
We only see this promising “concept” in one solitary scene.
They’re having money troubles, with Paolo’s two exes and kids back in Italy needing upkeep.
Cesar? Everything’s grand, with sexy wife Amelia (Ximena Gonzalez-Rubio), tween son Enrique (Ricardo Zertuche) and his mother around to see his success. They’re planning a big European vacation.
All it takes is one impending 40th birthday — Cesar’s — to take down the whole house of cards.
Actually, his 40th has little to do with that, even though he’s keenly aware that his father died at 40. He can be childlike forever, right?
“Forty is the new 12, after all.”
Only Cesar is not childish, not upbeat and not even that much fun. Imagine how he’ll be when he brags about his mother’s good health just before she drops dead, when Amelia introduces him to her ex, who’s been in prison for ten years and is probably the father of her son.
Perfect time to get away to sunny, sandy Acapulco, where L’Allegria’s duo will compete in a week-long cook-off with the best chefs in Mexico for “Delicacies” magazine’s $20,000 prize.
Cesar’s marriage is ending, the son he doted on isn’t his, he’s just lost his mother.
Maybe we should be surprised that he doesn’t set off sparks with vacationing Chicagoan Naomi (Gaby Espino) as Paolo is hitting on her BFF Selina (Sonia Couogh). But this is a rom-com, you know. Sparks are supposed to happen.
The central couple doesn’t click, the cooking scenes are abbreviated and practically food-free and the “contest” has little conflict, despite the snobby director of it (Miguel Pizarro) obviously having it in for these “entertainer” chefs.
“Your clients all leave…enchanted,” he hisses (in Spanish or dubbed into English), as if that’s a bad thing.
A trip to a romantic swimming grotto, a potentially romantic snorkeling trip and all we get is the barest glimpse of scenery and maybe a single scene with the potential to amuse or “enchant.”
And it doesn’t.
Rating: TV-MA, for no particular reason
Cast: Erick Elias, Gaby Espino, Adal Ramones,
Ximena Gonzalez-Rubio, Sonio Couoh, Ricardo Zertuche, Antonio Fortier
Credits: Scripted and directed by Pietro Loprieno. A Netflix release.
Running time: 1:21