Now Streaming: ACAPULCO, One Dream at a Time
Eugenio Derbez, Enrique Arrizon, Fernando Carsa, Camila Perez, and Damián Alcázar star in a bilingual comedy series, now streaming on Apple TV+.
Now streaming on Apple TV+.
The first bilingual (Spanish and English) series from the Apple TV+ streaming service is sweet, gentle and filled with likable characters.
Now, as to Eugenio Derbez...
For many native English-language speakers in North America, Derbez is something of a non-acquired taste. His breakthrough hit, Instructions Not Included (2013), elicited a strong reaction from our own Eric Ortiz Garcia, who lives and works in Mexico, and described the film thusly as "in the vein of [Adam] Sandler's laziest and sappiest works, as it's unfunny and, at the same time, tries too hard to be something much more profound than average."
Even though I am of mixed Mexican/Irish descent (mainly), I was born and raised in the U.S., and so Eric's review, in which he covered Derbez' background in television comedy and his rise to stardom, rang true for me, reinforcing my impression of Derbez as someone whose comedy was not for me. And so I have not kept up with any of his broad comedies, which is not my taste anyway, Mexican or not. (For the record, I am Mexican-Irish. Or Irish-Mexican. Or Cinemerican.)
Recently, though, I caught up with CODA, a very worthy and enjoyable movie that made its streaming debut on Apple TV+ after premiering at the Sundance Film Festival. (Read Mel Valentin's review here.) In the film, Derbez gives a very decent performance as a "flamboyantly elegant" instructor who is stern and demanding, which opened me up to watch Acapulco with a more open mind.
Indeed, I'm glad I did, because Acapulco is not about Eugenio Derbez, the actor or the comic presence. Indeed, though his modest success in the strained and not terribly funny How to Be a Latin Lover (2017) served as inspiration, the series spends most of its time in the company of his character as a younger man.
In the series, Maximo (Eugene Derbez) is an incredibly wealthy and successful businessman who lives in an outlandishly large mansion, where he lives alone, welcoming an annual visit from his nephew Hugo. Each episode begins as Maximo tells the indulgent young boy a story about how he became so wealthy and successful, starting with him in 1984, landing a much-coveted position at Las Colinas, the hottest resort in his hometown of Acapulco, Mexico.
Young Maximo (Enrique Arrizon) is an eager go-getter who has always dreamed of working at the resort, thinking that it will one day lead to him becoming fabulously wealthy and successful. Of course it will, since we have already seen that he made it!
Created by Austin Winsberg, Eduardo Cisneros, and Jason Shuman, the show trades on broad stereotypes and narrative twists that are easy to see coming. What makes it all go down easy, though, is that the show is also filled with likable characters who share the common desire to better their own lives, yes, but mostly will do anything to better the lives of their families and win their favor. I can related to that.
Directed by Richard Shepherd (HBO's Girls), the first two episodes set a positive 80s mood and and establishes a generally positive, romantic tone as well, introducing Young Maximo, his cheerful best friend Memo (Fernando Carsa), determined aspiring fashion designer Julia (Camila Perez), her clueless American boyfriend Chad (Chord Overstreet), and Don Pablo (Damian Alcazar), the stern head of resort operations, who quickly becomes Young Maximo's mentor.
Maximo's family is also woven into the narrative threads deeply: Maximo's witty sister Sara (Regina Reynoso), who is guarding a personal secret, and his strong, confident mother (Vanessa Bauche), who is dealing with serious eye issues. It's all quite loving and kind, and I admit I kinda fell in love with some of them.
Along with the expected narrative arcs, future episodes also touch on several pertinent social issues that are highlighted. Nothing too outrageous or strongly-expressed, though; it all blows quite gently, like a soft summer breeze on a warm night. Still, it's welcome to see such issues acknowledged and addressed.
Often silly, occasionally hamfisted, and frequently melodramatic, I kept coming back for the characters, who work hard and can only hope that, one day, their family's dreams will come true. Maybe, just maybe, one of their dreams will come true too.
Now Streaming covers international and indie genre films and TV shows that are available on legal streaming services.