EL CANTANTE (Leon Ichaso). 106 minutes. Some subtitles. Opens Friday (August 17). Rating: NN
When you've got the hollowed-out eyes, waxy skin and sunken cheeks of Marc Anthony , aka Skeletor, makeup can only do so much to make you look healthier.
So it's no wonder that in this clichéd rise-and-fall biopic of Hector Lavoe, the legendary Puerto Rican salsa singer who died of AIDS-related illness at 46 in 1993, Anthony looks most believable during his junkie period and final years. Not that his acting -- the guy's got the emotional range of a Muppet -- helps matters.
There's overacting galore by executive producer Jennifer Lopez , who's Anthony's on- and off-screen partner. As Lavoe's widow, Puchi, she narrates the film in unconvincing old-lady makeup and her tiresome "I'm still Jenny from the block" accent. Funny how her character's supposed to be old but she's still got J-Lo's rockin' bod. Adds new meaning to the term "vanity project."
Half the film's budget has gone to Lopez's retro wardrobe, especially the scarves. The other half, thankfully, has gone into the music. Lavoe poured his soul into his singing, and crowds loved him because his flaws were their flaws.
Anthony seems most comfortable in the musical numbers, especially the concert recreations, although director Leon Ichaso always shows us Lopez's Puchi seductively swaying her booty in the wings.
The film follows the basic "I love you, I hate you, where's my syringe?" trajectory of most music-and-drugs movies. John Ortiz as musician Willie Coló n and Romi Dias as Lavoe's straight sister are memorable because they actually try to play characters.
Which is more than you can say about the two leads. Buy the soundtrack and skip the film.