Derbez (a sorta Mexican Jerry Lewis/Charlie Chaplin) plays gigolo Maximo who, at a young and Adonis-looking 22-years-old (played by Derbez’s own son, Vahir), sets his studly sights on Peggy (Renee Taylor), a filthy rich old lady and marries her. We fast-forward 25 years later and Maximo (the elder Derbez) is now a spoiled, narcissist, and worry-free stud-muffin to same filthy-rich, but older woman. But a slick–and younger–car salesman (Michael Cera) soon outshines Maximo and out he goes on the streets with nothing but a suitcase.
With nowhere else to go, Maximo shows up at his estranged younger sister’s apartment as a surprise. Sara (Salma Hayek–looking so very fine) is upset by his presence as she’s got a ten-year-old son named Hugo to raise (Raphael Alejandro) and his total unwillingness to get a job. Trying to help Maximo out is Rick (Rob Lowe), a fellow gigolo who’s currently nailing the very old, very wealthy, but very weird Millicent (Linda Lavin). While Maximo is settling in at Sara’s digs and getting acquainted with Hugo’s nerdy ways, he learns that his nephew has the hots for fellow classmate Arden (Mckenna Grace–currently in Gifted). But Maximo has set his eyes on Arden’s grandmother; the super-rich and attractive Celeste (Raquel Welch).
Maximo wants to introduce himself to Celeste, but that’s going to be a problem, since her nosy chauffeur (Rob Corddry) won’t let him anywhere near her. Solution? Get Hugo invited to Arden’s birthday party and, by invitation, he’ll get in to ply his trade. Perfect! What could possibly go wrong? But first Maximo has to teach the kid how to be a player like him in your usual montage. In between time there are hijinks with Maximo and a goofy cat-obsessed Froyo employee (Kristen Bell), a pair of dim-bulb bullies (Rob Riggle and Rob Heubel) who run a car-wrap advertising shop, and Sara desperately trying to get that promotion at her architecture job.
At Arden’s massive b-day party (where Weird Al is performing!), all hell breaks loose when Maximo finds out the ugly truth about Rick. Worse yet is when both guys find Celeste to be. . . um. . .disarming. *wink wink*. Anyway, the finale ties up all the loose ends as expected with a nice little cherry on top, y’know, just like in real life. Okay, so it’s not the laugh-fest promised by the trailer, but it does have its moments. Whereas Derbez’s previous movie, Instructions Not Included, was co-written and directed by Derbez and was devastatingly good, this film was written by Chris Spain and Jon Zack, both of whom have practically zero prior screenwriting skills.
The story (told with some Spanish subtitles) while fun and has purpose, just meanders and sloughs along without any real zip to it. It feels like a series of independent little skits thrown in the air and then sewn together haphazardly to make a picture. Director Ken Marino (Reno 911, We’re The Millers) missed SO many golden opportunities for real comedy, but instead went with old-fashioned slap-stick (getting hit by cars, falling off couches, etc) which weren’t even filmed well. . . or that funny. You want slap-stick that’s funny? Watch any Laurel & Hardy film, guys! THAT’S how you do it!
Derbez tries his best, but in trying his best it mostly came across as forced. He’s done much better (see his previous film) and I’m guessing it’s because he didn’t direct this time around. The real star here is young Raphael Alejandro who, just like Mckenna Grace did in Gifted, steals the movie every time he’s on screen. A natural, this kid has got personality, charm, and a real love for the camera. Again, it’s the children taking stage from the adults and that’s fine with me; show them how it’s done, guys!
Norman Jewison, the prolific director who gave us such great films like Fiddler on the Roof, The Cincinnati Kid, and The Heat of the Night made his directing debut with this light-hearted comedy remake of Damon Runyon’s Little Miss Marker starring Tony Curtis, Suzanne Pleshette, and Disneyland!
Screenwriter Marion Hargrove, who wrote a bunch of TV shows, reworked the classic gangster tale into a sentimental story about a roguish Lake Tahoe manager named Steven McCluskey who runs his casino & hotel like a well-oiled machine. Cock-sure, fastidious, and button-down, this ladies-man has an in-house person trainer (Larry Storch) and rather unique problem: he can never leave Nevada for California. It looks like his shrewish ex-wife is ready to have him nabbed the moment he leaves Nevada and have him served a summons by an eagle-eyed p.i. (Stubby Kaye) who’s always watching.
But things are sweet for this bachelor; his casino, owned by Bernie “the Butcher” Friedman (Phil Silvers), has just given him Christine Lockwood, a terrific new lounge singer (Pleshette) and he’s just fleeced a gambler (Gregg Palmer) from his major winnings. . . but there’s a small problem. She’s five-years-old and named Penny Piper (Claire Wilcox), the daughter of that gambler he fleeced. Dad took off and left her alone, so it looks like Steven is now responsible for her, even teaching her the casino life. Afraid of the publicity, telling Bernie or the cops, Steven decides to keep the kid in his suite until her dad comes back.
But her dad never does comes back and the two very slowly bond with each other, while Christine and Steven also get to know each other on a more personal level, after having gotten off to a rocky start. Penny’s love of Disneyland comes in later when, against Steven’s better judgement, decides to take her there, thinking this will soften the blow about telling her about deceased dad. But, even though he plans an elaborate ruse to fool the p.i., he’s found out and chased through the House of Mouse and finally served. Penny is taken away and made a ward of the court, Steven is fired from his job, but that doesn’t stop this story from having the requisite happy ending.
Although schmaltzy and very cliched, there is one thing that is very cool: they filmed 1962 Disneyland inside the park; the only time it was ever done for a movie. You get to see stuff that is long gone, like the Mine Train ride, the aerial skyway buckets, horse-drawn carriages, the Indian show on Tom Sawyer’s Island, and more! Very nice! You can even see that Curtis is NOT having a good time riding the Matterhorn Bobsleds, LOL! Little Wilcox is adorable and really turns on the charm while Curtis and Pleshette just go along for the ride. Check out Phil Silvers; he’s having the best time here, doing his trademark over-acting and mugging.