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Nerdlocker Movie Review: Puerto Ricans in Paris

Luis Guzmán is one of the great modern character actors. Over the last 30 years he’s played a menagerie of memorable characters, appearing in multiple films each year, including projects with renowned directors Brian De Palma (Carlito’s Way, Snake Eyes), Sidney Lumet (Family Business, Q&A, Guilty As Sin), Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Punch Drunk Love), and Steven Soderbergh (Out of Sight, The Limey, Traffic). He’s graced the small screen on several occasions, popping up on everything from Frasier to SeaQuest 2032, including a gang of cop/crime-related shows and TV movies from the mid-80s and 90s (Miami Vice, Hunter, Law & Order, Homicide: Life on the Street, Walker, Texas Ranger, NYPD Blue, New York Undercover, and Oz). He’s been in short films, voiced characters in animated movies and video games, and held his own acting alongside some of the best actors in the game, but he’s never, ever, in his whole career, played the leading role in a feature-length film. Until now. Sort of.

Guzmán gets top billing in the new film Puerto Ricans in Paris, but it isn’t exactly a starring role worthy of my grand intro. The film is enjoyable, but slight, and I hate to say it, but Guzmán is upstaged by co-star Edgar Garcia. To be fair, that has a lot to do with the characters they play. Guzmán and Garcia play undercover cops, New York’s Finest, and they’re partners; one salty (Guzmán), one sweet (Garcia). Garcia’s role is the more likable of the two, and as Guzmán’s done for years, he does his best to make his co-star shine. The two of them have a fun dynamic and without them the movie would be an insufferable mess. With them, it’s an enjoyable mess.

Puerto Ricans in Paris is short (82 min) and it’s super silly. It’s a ‘fish out of water’ comedy, and as anybody who’s traveled abroad or experienced another culture knows, there’s plenty of laughs to be mined from being a stranger in a foreign land. For the flimsiest of reasons (any excuse to get the Puerto Ricans to Paris) the fellas leave the Big Apple and head to the City of Light (they want to find a valuable stolen purse and claim the reward money). The creatively named characters, Luis (Guzmán) and Eddie (Garcia) leave behind their female counterparts (played by Rosario Dawson and Rosie Perez, in two very small roles). Eddie is married, has a family, and is in love with his nagging wife (Perez), who happens to be Luis’ sister. Luis and his lady (Dawson) have been together for years, but he dodges questions about marriage and long-term commitment like they’re toxic.

When they get to Paris, Luis is looking for action, but the ladies aren’t feeling him. They all seem to love his confident, affable, easygoing partner though, and that makes Luis even more frustrated — and paranoid because Eddie’s married to his sister. Eddie constantly enjoys himself and he intends to make the most out of his time in Paris, sporting their fashions, sampling the macarons, and in one of the movie’s best scenes, waking up early to bike through the city. Luis is older and grumpy, stubborn (he won’t even try a macaron), the self-proclaimed ‘brains’ of the duo. He considers Eddie to be the ‘muscle.’

Puerto Ricans in Paris has some laughs, but I never felt like I was watching a full-fledged motion picture. It was more like a television show or a movie made for Netflix or something. I hope to see Luis Guzmán and Edgar Garcia in more starring roles though, and I wouldn’t mind seeing them team up again in something else. These guys are perfect for the world Shane Black recently created in The Nice Guys. (Fingers crossed there are more movies made in that world.) Whatever project(s) Guzmán and Garcia work on next, I hope that the stories and supporting characters are more developed than they are here. As far as leading roles go, I think it would be cool to see Guzmán in something raw and humanizing, similar to Mickey Rourke’s performance in The Wrestler.

2.5 out of 5 Nerdskulls

Puerto Ricans in Paris is now playing in Houston at AMC 30 and is available on VOD.

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Salty Winters once said, "Everything I learned I learned from the movies." He was quoting Audrey Hepburn.