Mission Park features some of Hollywood’s most talented actors, who just happen to be Latino. The producers shopped this script around in Hollywood. They loved the script, but when the producers insisted on casting Latinos in the leads they passed because they needed “recognizable stars”. Hollywood’s “excuse” for not casting Latinos as leads was proven to be “So Hollywood’s 80’s way of thinking” when last week Instructions Not Included debuted 5th at the box office, earning 6 times more per screen than all the Hollywood studio films. This weekend word of mouth has Instructions Not Included upped to 3rd on the list. It was written, directed and stars unknown Eugenio Derbez. Hollywood knows him now.
Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review calls Mission Park “hokey”. She goes on to say that the FBI characters were “inept” and the drug honchos “careless”. Really Ms. Catsoulis? I see these same “inept” and “carless” characters in countless Hollywood movies, most recently in Savages and what about Die Hard. Yet, she feel this movie merits this criticism.
For over 20 years my entertainment trade publication Latin Heat (latinheat.com) has covered films with Latino talent, characters and/or themes. We have documented Hollywood’s dismal attempts at portraying Latinos. That is why Latinos have decided to take matters into their own hands, much like the Black community has done to great results. Mission Park is a great example of a fresh twist to Hollywood fare. The storyline is a familiar one, but in this case Latinos are the heroes as well as the bad guys. The performances are stellar, I dare say one in particular by Joseph Julilan Soria, Oscar worthy.
What I think is really going on with Hollywood and mainstream critics is that they are out of touch with what and who the #1 film going audience wants to see. As Latinos begin to make more box office hits and create more stars, we are sure Hollywood and the critics will change their tune.