The Flamin' Hot Cheetos Movie Promises to Make You Feel Good (Whether It's True or Not)

The film depicts the rise of Richard Montañez from janitor to vice president at Frito-Lay.

Jesse Garcia and Dennis Haysbert in FLAMIN’ HOT

Anna Kooris / Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures

Plans to bring the rags-to-riches story of Richard Montañez to life first hit a speedbump in 2019. Frito-Lay’s legal team forwarded a letter from Lynne Greenfield — a former Frito-Lay employee who claims she helped research and introduce Flamin’ Hot Cheetos to the market — to DeVon Franklin of Franklin Entertainment, which is a co-producer of the biopic along with Searchlight Pictures. Despite that hiccup, the movie process continued forward with director Eva Longoria announcing that her biggest priority was to “make sure we are telling Richard Montañez’s story authentically.”

In 2021, The Los Angeles Times published an investigative report detailing more reasons to question the validity of the feel-good story. While Richard Montañez claims to be the inventor of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, Frito-Lay maintains that, “Flamin’ Hot Cheetos was created by a team of people and, as with all of our products, we do not credit one person with a product invention or flavor extension.” That said, Frito-Lay continues to celebrate the rest of Montañez’s story, which involves a journey from janitor to vice president of multicultural sales and community promotions for the snack corporation.

When the film premiered at SXSW this March, Longoria waved aside the conflict surrounding it. “We never set out to tell the history of the Cheeto,” she explained during a Q&A session. “This is the history of Richard Montañez, [who] happened to have a really big hand in the launch of this product.”

Watch the official trailer for Flamin' Hot below:

Based on the recently released trailer, the film seems to promise a funny and heartwarming watch while tiptoeing around the controversial elements. The trailer’s title card claims the movie is “inspired by a true story,” as opposed to “based on a true story.”

Jesse Garcia, who portrays Montañez, voices over a montage of scenes, saying, “I’m the guy who helped bring the world the most popular snack it's ever seen.” Later in the trailer come multiple scenes that allude to Montañez devising the flavor profile himself.

One truth is for certain: the drama surrounding Flamin’ Hot is sure to make interest in the biopic “burn so good.” The film streams on Hulu and Disney+ beginning June 9.

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