The Mambo Kings (1992)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Musical Drama, Showbiz Drama  |   Release Date - Feb 28, 1992 (USA)  |   Run Time - 105 min.  |   Countries - France, United States  |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Mike DiBella

Despite its driving Latin rhythms and musical appeal, The Mambo Kings is on the whole a relatively uninspiring film. The romance and heartbreak of the mambo, a dance that imitates the passions of life, seems forced, and the pitch of the picture never really pulses in step to the rhythm of the Cuban drums. For their part, stars Antonio Banderas and Armand Assante seem very artificial in their emotions, despite their best histrionic efforts. However, Arnold Glimcher injects life into the drab, antiseptic feel traditionally associated with the fifties with the vibrance of Cuban music, while capturing the genuine essence of the fifties by contrasting the neutral tones of the daytime with the warm light that bathes his night club scenes. Unfortunately, the story itself is all over the map and never finds a sweet spot, rambling on unevenly before it culminates in an awkward, abrupt ending. Tito Puente does lend some legitimacy to the film with a cameo, and the supporting cast do their best to add a little spice to this otherwise dull picture.