Luis Guzmán is the sort of character actor whose naturally comic presence can make a mediocre movie more tolerable. Most recent case in point: “Puerto Ricans in Paris,” a formulaic fish-out-of-water buddy caper given an amusing boost with a casual scrunch of Guzmán’s pug-nosed mug.
Guzmán and Edgar Garcia play a pair of NYPD detectives whose skill in busting bootleggers has brought them to the attention of Colette (Alice Taglioni), a French handbag designer whose latest creation is being held for ransom with the threat of flooding the market with imitations ahead of its upcoming launch.
Suspecting the note came from someone in her inner circle, Colette flies the guys to Paris to sniff out the perp. Speaking of knock-offs, there’s little about the film that doesn’t feel like it’s been lifted from any other number of buddy cop comedies.
Despite an energetic set-up, the broad script fails to deliver the anticipated goods once the action relocates to Paris (played, for the most part by a more cost-effective Prague).
Fortunately, Guzmán doesn’t need a lot of sharp writing to make his lines sound funny, and he and Garcia have a loose, playful chemistry. Disappointingly, for reasons known only to filmmaker Ian Edelman, the equally funny Rosie Perez and Rosario Dawson, relegated to the sidelines as the boys’ significant others, weren’t allowed to make the trip.
Squandering all those comic possibilities — now that’s a real crime!
‘Puerto Ricans in Paris’
MPAA rating: R for language including some sexual references
Running time: 1 hour, 22 minutes
Playing: In limited release