“This is war, gentleman. The nightclub, the bar, the lounge — this is your battlefield. Women are not the enemy; they’re the prize.”
Such is the philosophy of 29-year-old Julian (Adrian Manzano), who considers himself a kinder, gentler sort of pickup artist, a lady-killer free of his father’s machismo and Mystery’s misogyny. You’d be half-right to assume Sex, Love & Salsa is a Latin-flavored reheating of the “manchild grows up” genre.
Written and directed by Manzano, this character study in rom-com’s clothes is ambitiously formula-averse, but too shaggy and unfocused to be satisfying. In one of several plotlines that go nowhere, Julian has a cameraman follow him around: “I’m making a little documentary about my dating life,” he announces at the breakfast table to his parents and newly divorced older brother.
His mother (standout Marisol Carrere) quickly suspects the truth: “You’re going to do rated-X movies in my house?!” She’s impatient to see her younger son get married, but her husband’s (Jorge Hoyos) feelings are more mixed. “No man is meant to live alone. You have to have a maid — a mate,” he corrects himself upon noticing his wife’s murderous rage across the table. The rest of the film finds Julian playing Goldilocks.
The immature teenager (Sofia Rodriguez) and the sexually adventurous older woman ready for motherhood (Susan Quinn) are obviously bad matches. When he meets a sexy salsa dancer from Spain (Gabrielle Ruiz), Julian thinks the world is his oyster. He forgets she makes an equal claim on that oyster, too.