Luiz Guzman and Edgar Garcia play with predictable humor in this silly caper comedy.
Puerto Ricans in Paris (LAFF Review)
Whether they were inspired by the similarly titled Kanye West song or not, the title of this warm but silly caper comedy quite aptly fits the film’s rather obvious but chucklesome plot. Directed by Ian Edelman and starring Luis Guzman and Edgar Garcia as the titular Puerto Ricans, Luis and Eddie, the film starts with the pair as brothers-in-law and police partners working in the rather un-sexy field of handbag knockoffs. After a particularly clever undercover operation where they take down a Louis Vuitton fake manufacturer, they are handpicked by a popular French handbag designer, Colette (Alice Taglioni), and her business partner, to track down which of their colleagues has stolen one of Colette’s bags and may be intending to sell it to the knockoff market.
As per usual in these sorts of buddy comedies, one of the men is married, Eddie, and one is determinedly single, Luis. Eddie is married to Luis’s sister Gloria (Rosie Perez, and ridiculously underused) and can’t seem to get things right as he forgets their anniversary and then fails to deliver any sort of celebration to make up for it. Luis is (inexplicably) dating Vanessa (Rosario Dawson) who is getting antsy that he won’t pop the question and gives him an ultimatum when he lets slip that he may never want to marry.
When the offer to track down the stealer of the handbag in Paris comes along, not to mention a hefty reward offer, they decide taking the job may be their opportunity to make things right with their chicas. The usual sort of aloofness ensues, as two hard-nosed NYPD Puerto Ricans could never be expected to know how to behave in a chic a place as Paris *sigh*. Some deserved laughs arrive in the form of Eddie’s willingness to learn and experience the Parisian life. Luis is more determined to track down the thief, get his money, and go. Luis, usually the ladies man (aren’t all middle-aged Puerto Rican men?) is confused to find Eddie and his mild Dad-like empathetic married-man qualities seem to win over the Parisian ladies more than Luis’s attempts.
The two interview a few women close to Colette, dressing up in silly costumes and making up ridiculous cover stories in order to win trust. At one point they have a lead, and then it becomes obvious they don’t. They butt heads with the Paris police. They generally bumble about. It’s all rather predictable. Strangely the writers, Ian Edelman and Neel Shah, decided that the wrench in Luis and Eddie’s relationship would be around Luis’s misconception that Eddie and Colette are spending a little too much time together. As if anything in Eddie’s already established personality makes him appear like an adulterer?
The end result is a weak plot and silly concept utilizing two genuinely talented hispanic actors who just can’t quite make up for it all. The entire thing reeks of formulation and rather generic comedy. While Luis Guzman should probably have been given a headlining platform long ago, and as much as we love Guzman and Garcia in Edelman’s How to Make it In America, the content here is far too weak for the talent involved. Garcia, a relatively inexperienced actor, is surprisingly lovable here if somewhat flat in his delivery.
Considering the stated cultural identity of the film, it really doesn’t play off of this much at all. Only with the usual hispanic tropes. The fact that both Rosario Dawson and Rosie Perez were cast and then given all of maybe 15 minutes combined screen time, is just puzzling. It may just be Edelman hasn’t quite grasped the long-form of feature films, as the entire premise of Puerto Ricans in Paris would make for a great short sketch on television, but over the course of 80 minutes (short even for a comedy feature) the film is agreeable but not all that winsome.