Movie review by
Yvonne Condes, Common Sense Media
Cantinflas Movie Poster Image
Showbiz tale about legendary Mexican actor is mostly tame.
  • PG
  • 2014
  • 106 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Amid issues related to infidelity and the like, the movie still delivers messages about loyalty -- to never forget where you came from and who came with you -- and being true to your artistic vision.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Mario Moreno, aka Cantinflas, stands his ground to keep his creative freedom, even when money is involved. He fights against corrupt union officials and, after losing his way, comes back to what’s important in life. But along the way, he cheats on his wife, starts drinking heavily, and becomes an egomaniac. Mario's business partner (the man who originally discovered him) becomes a bitter alcoholic. As portrayed here, Mike Todd tells lie after lie in order get his movie made.


Mario gets punched out in a boxing ring and thrown out onto the street after getting fired from his first job. He gets in an argument with his drunk/bitter friend in front of a room full of people. After learning that his wife can't have children, Mario drinks heavily and starts throwing things around. He's chased by a bull, has bottles and fruit thrown at him while on stage, and gets in a nasty fist fight in a union hall. 


Mario gets fired and physically removed from his first job after he's caught making out with the boss' daughter. After Mario is married, he and his wife talk about making a baby. Mario has affairs and is seen with other women (there's one scene where twins are waiting for him in his dressing room), but not explicitly. There are some nightclub scenes where women dance (provocatively for the 1930s) and some suggestive or crude jokes.


Questionable language in both Spanish and English.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Many of the characters smoke and drink, including the main character. There's a scene in which Mario's ex-partner shows up drunk at an event and makes a scene. Mario drinks heavily after receiving news that his wife can't have babies. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Cantinflas is about legendary Mexican actor Mario Moreno (Óscar Jaenada), aka Cantinflas, and the making of Around the World in 80 Days. Cantinflas is in both Spanish (with English subtitles) and English. Older and bilingual kids will be able to follow along with the story, which is slow in parts and entertaining in others. Overall it's an interesting look at the early life of the man Charlie Chaplin once called "the funniest man in the world." Expect infidelity, drinking, smoking (accurate for the time period), and other iffy behavior, but it's all tame enough for teens and most tweens.

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What's the story?

CANTINFLAS is about legendary Mexican actor Mario Moreno (Óscar Jaenada), aka Cantinflas, and producer Mike Todd's (Michael Imperioli) struggle to get the actor to play a part in the 1956 movie Around the World in 80 Days. The film tells two stories. One is Moreno's rise from being a nightclub stagehand to Mexico's most prolific and highest-paid actor/comedian -- all of which is told in Spanish with English subtitles. The second story, told in English, is about the lengths to which Todd goes to get the classic family film made.

Is it any good?

This captivating film will likely introduce new audiences to the story of one of the world's most beloved comedians. The film switches back and forth in time between the 1930s, with Moreno figuring out what type of performer he’s going to become, and the 1950s, with Hollywood powerhouse Todd going to desperate lengths to get the Latin American superstar to appear in his movie. Families who love film will enjoy watching how old movies were made and how people became stars. The early scenes with Moreno performing, falling in love with his wife, and becoming a successful actor/comedian work well; it’s when Cantinflas switches to '50s-era Hollywood that it drags a little. Jaenada channels Cantinflas' humor, charisma, and energy, while Imperioli is a little flat as Todd.

The film offers a fun glimpse into early Mexican cinema (with beautifully done sets and costumes) and old Hollywood, but it's also supposed to be telling an epic story about an important man, and it's not compelling enough to convey the impact that Moreno had on Latin American film and culture. What is compelling is the way that the film switches from Spanish to English, staying true to language and comedy of Cantinflas

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the differences between the movies that Cantinflas made in the 1950s and movies made today. How are the pacing, dialog, and costumes different than what you'd experience with a modern movie?

  • When a director told Mario that he couldn't act a certain way or he had to say a certain line, he fired the director. Do you think it's OK not to follow directions or advice you don't believe in? What role does compromise play?

  • As portrayed here, Mike Todd told a series of lies in order to get his movie, Around the World in 80 Days, made. Is it ever OK to lie in order to get what you want?

  • How does the movie depict drinking and smoking? Are there realistic consequences? Do you think movies set during times when smoking was commonplace should include it for accuracy?

Movie details

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