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El Cantante: Not Entirely Horrible

I walked out of El Cantante having learned a little bit about the life of Hector Lavoe and a little bit about the birth of Salsa music, but not enough about either. To be honest, I was expecting a lot worse and the movie really wasn't completely atrocious. It just wasn't any good. How's that for a rave review?

As one of the few sorry people who actually suffered through Gigli I will say that El Cantante is not nearly as bad as that 2003 monstrosity. That being said, neither Jennifer Lopez or Marc Anthony has the acting ability to carry a movie, especially one that sets out to tell such an intense story. In the end, J Lo's Newyorican Productions' first film is a lengthy music video-like tribute to the biopic, which runs the gamut of cliches but ultimately sheds little new light on the genre. To read the rest of my review just

The film is narrated by Jennifer Lopez, who plays Puchi Lavoe, Salsa sensation Hector Lavoe's (Marc Anthony) wife. This should have been an immediate red flag that this movie would be less about Hector's career and more about his relationship with Puchi. The story reads like literally every "Behind The Music" — a quick rise to fame, the drug-induced downfall, a moment of redemption followed by even more downward spiraling. Only El Cantante doesn't have endless interviews with the story's crucial players that help to create a full picture and make the VH1 series so watchable. It only has Puchi.

J Lo's Puchi is supposed to be hard headed and strong, but often came off as shrieky and annoying. At the most emotional moment of the movie, she delivers her ultra dramatic "you can never, ever leave me" speech, but instead of hanging on her every word I just couldn't wait until it was over. Not a very good sign.

As an actor, Marc Anthony was the highlight for me, probably because his character wasn't too far from himself. The movie involved more singing than I expected, which is certainly his strong suit. Marc isn't a drug addict, but he does light up on stage and know what it is like to be a superstar. J Lo, on the other hand, doesn't know what it's really like to play second fiddle to her husband's fame, and it showed.

As I mentioned earlier, one of my biggest qualms with the movie was that it didn't teach me enough about Hector himself and the rise of Salsa music in America. Most of what the movie teaches you about Hector Lavoe you can gather from the preview. In fact, as soon as I got home from the screening, I looked him up on Wikipedia hoping that it would help me put the pieces of his life in logical order.

Perhaps this is what they were going for — to make the movie as chaotic, fragmented and confusing as Hector and Puchi Lavoe's lives were — but even that message didn't come through clear enough. It's unfortunate, because I do think that within El Cantante is a story worth telling, but this movie just didn't do it justice.

Photos courtesy of Picturehouse


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Join The Conversation
crazyana crazyana 7 years
i know that critics always get a kick outta trashin JLO.but lets get real.it was her best performance ever! SUPERB is the word!
VirginiaGomes VirginiaGomes 8 years
The acting on the movie was very good.
nadioz nadioz 8 years
yeah i also desagree with the Review, Jennifer Lopez was just amzing in this role she has a big chance to get a Golden Globe Nod, it's the structur of the movie who wasn't good the director went all over the place, and like most critics said what make the movie good is the Music and Performances (Lopez and Anthony).
Lorelei-Spirit Lorelei-Spirit 8 years
I'll see it on Showtime eventually...
ccsugar ccsugar 8 years
I'm actually sorta interested in seeing the movie. I'm sure it won't be as good as Walk the Line, but I'd still be interested to watch it. I don't know much about salsa, other than it's tasty on tortilla chips ;) Sorry
beingtazim beingtazim 8 years
doesnt look like a movie i'd ever want to see. i don't care for jlo and i don't have to watch it if i don't want to. :P
mavo mavo 8 years
I thought that was a horrible review, Molly. The acting was superb, but the direction wasn't that good. You're giving Jennifer a bad name in this movie b/c you can't see past the "J.Lo" persona (like many tabloid obssessors), therefore you can never buy the character anytime she opens her mouth,no matter how good Jennifer acts. The majority of the movie critics think the complete opposite of you when it comes to Lopez, even though they gave the movie itself lukewarm reviews. *sigh* And once again Jennifer did not want to prove that she could work with a significant other without it turning into a Gigli disaster. The real Puchi Perez gave Lopez the script 5 years ago and requested that Jennifer play her, shortly before her death. Lopez called Marc the following month (again five years ago, before they were together) and asked him to play Hector. Just because Gigli happened years later doesn't mean Jennifer should back out of her word. When it comes to her work, she is a complete professional. Good for her for keeping her integrity.
theboyslover theboyslover 8 years
It's sad to hear that! I was sure that movie would be a smash. I'll go see it anyway just to support :)
miss-britt miss-britt 8 years
I kind of want to see it just to learn a little bit about Hector Lavoe but i don't know if i can take J.lo's annoying accent she provides in the film. I thought Marc would have done better in this film, from what i remember from watching him act in other films he's not that bad of an actor. But sometimes i think J.lo just wanted to prove she could work with a significant other and it being good. So buzz, i'm assuming J.Lo won't be getting an academy award nomination like Access Hollywood asked her in a recent interview?
LaLa0428 LaLa0428 8 years
They should have gotten other actors to do this pic. But, this was a total vanity piece for Marc Anthony. And JlO was coming along for the ride. She needs to go back to romatic comedies. And he should just sing, notice I don't want her to EVER never sing again.
chancleta chancleta 8 years
oh i really really liked it! the music was amazing! that being said i don't think it was as strong as "Ray" nor "Walk the line."
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