Jennifer Lopez, your days may be numbered. If Chasing
Papi, this film from first-time feature director Linda
Mendoza is any indication of things yet to come, Lopez
could find herself knocked off the throne by a whole host
of Latina actresses, and if there’s one thing this film has,
it’s a whole lot of sexy Latina babes. But that’s about all
it’s got. Chasing Papi mostly reflects how Hollywood
has finally gotten savvy about the changing demographics of
the United States. The Hispanic population has been growing
exponentially since the 1980s, and slowly we’re starting to
see films that cater to the fastest growing minority group
in America. This film features Latino actors and actresses
in all the lead roles and while producers are surely hoping
for a film with wide crossover appeal (and greater profit),
this is a film designed mostly to charm Hispanic audiences.
Save for what will eventually become a fairly typical marketing
strategy, this is just another unmemorable Hollywood comedy
in sheepskin clothing. Diversity is all well and good, but
a film needs to do much more than target a demographic. And
in this case, the actors and actresses are not portraying
denigrating ethnic stereotypes; they’re simply ethnic actors
portraying stereotypical characters.
Patricia (Vergara) is the spoiled rotten rich girl.
Lorena (Sanchez) is the bookish nerd-type who wears
glasses and pulls her hair back into a tight bun. And Cici
(Velasquez)is the hottie with big tits, short skirts,
and high heels. The object of their affection is Tomas (Verastegui).
He gets a little something from each of these women. From
Patricia he finds culture, from power attorney Lorena he finds
brains, and with Cici the lusty cocktail waitress he gets
sensuality. What they get from him is the discovery he’s a
three-timing greedy bastard. This revelation occurs after
they spontaneously show up at his plush L.A. home and find
each other instead of their paramour.
With three angry women standing in his hallway, Tomas frantically
pops tranquilizers to calm down and ends up passing out cold.
The women spirit him away to a hotel to await their Prince
Charming’s awakening with the hope that once he regains consciousness
he will pick the one he desires the most.
It’s all very insipid stuff and gets worse when the subplot
concerning bad guys and a big bag of money is introduced.
After demanding a wad of cash the women unknowingly possess,
hare-brained hijinks naturally ensue. After all this wackiness
subsides, the bookworm discovers she can be sensual. The spoiled
rich kid becomes less prissy and the hottie… well, she’s still
It’s a silly film, but it does have its moments. Near the
end of their escapade, the women end up at a local festival
with the thugs in hot pursuit. With no place else to run,
the women commandeer the stage where musicians are entertaining
the crowd. At Cici’s behest Lorena and Patricia hesitantly
begin to dance in front of the samba performers. But their
reluctance gradually gives way to wild gyrations and they
manage to win over puzzled musicians and audience members
alike. It’s an old plot device. It worked for the Blues
Brothers, and it works here too. Unfortunately this one
redeeming moment isn’t enough to save an entire film, and
for the most part you’ll be better off waiting and hoping
for Hollywood to one day soon take this burgeoning market
a little more seriously.