“Buy His CDs & Skip This Movie.”
“A Film Made For Me(Puerto Rican)and My Favorite Music Salsa!”
A conventional, brassy blat of a biopic.
Scott Brown - Entertainment Weekly
Whenever Marc Anthony takes the stage as Hector Lavoe in El Cantante, he unleashes his charisma and shows that, whatever his limitations as an actor, he is a brilliant performer.
A.O. Scott - New York Times
There is something entirely dead about Lopez's performance. No matter how superficially lively she makes it, she is always simply mouthing the lines. Never mind Jenny from the block. Jenny is the block. Of wood.
Peter Bradshaw - Guardian [UK]
The music is the uncontested highlight of El Cantante, which tells the story of the tragic life of salsa legend Hector Lavoe.
Claudia Puig - USA Today
Ironically, Lavoe's sad story serves mostly to remind viewers that Lopez is still the dazzling force of nature that burst onto the screen a scant 10 years ago.
Ann Hornaday - Washington Post
Where's the ambition? Where's the passion?
Ty Burr - Boston Globe
A garish, dispiriting bit of work.
Robert Wilonsky - Village Voice
The awkwardly told story of salsa legend Hector Lavoe, El Cantante doesn't even get the title right: It should have been called La Esposa, since it's really less about the singer than his wife.
Elizabeth Weitzman - New York Daily News
The film's first half is an uneven string of scenes that offer little setup and sometimes confuse.
Joey Guerra - Houston Chronicle
Nothing gets explored at length, and some key points are glossed over altogether, namely Hector's out-of-wedlock son and his frequent womanizing. Such factual details would demoralize Puchi. They are merely mentioned, then ignored.
Mario Tarradell - Dallas Morning News
El Cantante never nails the ecstatic moment of musical collaboration we crave from this genre. Where is the scene that gives us a fly-on-the-wall view of salsa's creation?
Lisa Kennedy - Denver Post
The director (Leon Ichaso) and his co-writers haven't licked a crucial question: Why do we need to see this movie and not just listen to the music?
Roger Ebert - Chicago Sun-Times
What is it about the biopic genre that gravitates toward the same sea of cliches, no matter what the sound or era?
Michael Phillips - Chicago Tribune
Marc Anthony plays the smack-addicted singer, who has some dynamite numbers but not much to say for himself.
J. R. Jones - Chicago Reader
Directed with palpable passion and terrific period feel by Ichaso, El Cantante has camerawork and editing that move with the 4/4 rhythm of salsa, upbeat even when the drama grows downbeat.
Carrie Rickey - Philadelphia Inquirer
You're watching Jennifer Lopez, but you may as well be watching a female impersonator impersonating Jennifer Lopez.
Randy Cordova - Arizona Republic
J-Lo really delivers the goods. I haven't always been a fan, but she makes this movie a must-see.
Rex Reed - New York Observer
A virtual template of every imaginable cliche of the musical biopic, pic suffers from a lack of narrative and character focus.
Robert Koehler - Variety
A downer of a musical biopic that leaves no cliche unturned.
Lou Lumenick - New York Post
The movie's good intentions and great music win out.
Roger Moore - Orlando Sentinel
This may be one of the very few biopics in which the subject is marginalized to the point of irrelevance.
Geoff Pevere - Toronto Star
El Cantante has to legitimize its subject before it can immortalize him; and in the effort, it makes the mistake of letting a star get in the way of the truth.
Mark Lepage - Globe and Mail
El Cantante disintegrates into a stylized jumble -- even a straightforward jumble would have been preferable.
Stephanie Zacharek - Salon.com
Unfortunately, the music is as irresistible as the tired story of a musician succumbing to substance abuse is resistible.
Kirk Honeycutt - Hollywood Reporter
Ultimately, El Cantante, which is also the title of Hector's signature song, leaves you feeling like you've watched yet another cliche, a shortened life in the same polluted vein as Jim Morrison or Edith Piaf.
Christy Lemire - Associated Press
Ben Kenigsberg - Time Out
Melissa Anderson - Time Out
Dave White - Movies.com
In fact, Lopez deserves praise for pushing this project. The recently deceased Puchi (who helped generate the script and pushed for Lopez to play her) is not the kind of character you see on screen every day.
Charlotte O'Sullivan - This is London
The film, however, beginning with a flashback to 1963, is a soft-pedalled account of Lavoe's rise to fame and his drug-related downfall that has more in common with the biopic parody Walk Hard than anything as muddy as real life.
Kevin Maher - Times [UK]
This is an entertaining biopic that's worth seeing for the terrific musical sequences and for the superb performances by Anthony and Lopez. Recommended.
Matthew Turner - ViewLondon
This messy, maudlin portrait of the decline and decline of Puerto Rico-born salsa star Hector Lavoe wavers uncertainly between cable channel biopic and socially concerned drug movie.
Wally Hammond - Time Out
It doesn't help that, in the title role, Marc Anthony has all the onscreen charisma of wet dough.
Stella Papamichael - Film4
Leon Ichaso's film soft-pedals everything save the language in what often resembles a made-for-cable biopic.
Mike McCahill - Daily Telegraph
Thought it was impossible to make the story of a drug-addicted musical icon boring? You were wrong.
Heather Huntington - ReelzChannel.com
Jennifer Lopez is superb as Puchi, delivering a totally credible, multi dimensional character.
Urban Cinefile Critics - Urban Cinefile
Melissa Anderson - Time Out New York
I want a great film about Hector Lavoe, and after watching this, I'm still waiting for it...
Felix Vasquez Jr. - Cinema Crazed
Jennifer Lopez plays it tough and down and dirty, on the Mexican border.
Prairie Miller - NewsBlaze
Another singer self-destructs, to a Latin beat.
Renee Schonfeld - Common Sense Media
LLittle more than a string of music videos in search of a script.
Susan Tavernetti - Palo Alto Weekly
- St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Reduces a potentially fascinating film into merely another cautionary story about a self-absorbed celebrity-junkie-whore.
Matt Brunson - Creative Loafing
Unfortunately, El Cantante turns out to be much more of an Anthony and Lopez project than a Lavoe one. Shot with seeming disregard for any of his actual artistic importance, the film fails to answer some of the simplest and most important questions about
Todd Gilchrist - IGN Movies
Ichaso and his writing collaborators never allow Hector Lavoe to be much more than a voice with substance abuse issues, not a person.
Michael Dequina - TheMovieReport.com
To Paraphrase Denis Leary: I'm stoned; I'm nobody. I'm stoned; I'm famous. I'm stoned; I'm dead.
Dan Lybarger - eFilmCritic.com
El Cantante is more a guilty pleasure than a great movie, but at least it may spark a renewed interest in the music of Lavoe and his contemporaries. If so, consider the film a success.
Liz Braun - Jam! Movies
How can you make a movie about a salsa singer that is completely lacking in rhythm or emotion?
Angela Baldassarre - Sympatico.ca
The film distrusts viewers to keep up with a story that, even it is isn't well-known beyond salsa and Latino communities, can speak for itself.
Cynthia Fuchs - PopMatters
The biopic in its barest form.
Mark Dujsik - Mark Reviews Movies
the melodrama in between the music is mediocre at best, and makes El Cantante nothing to sing home about.
Sean McBride - Sean the Movie Guy
...the musical numbers throb with vibrant energy...
Jim Lane - Sacramento News & Review
Together, Lopez and Anthony have created the kind of wildly miscast and misconceived star couple vehicle that hasn't been seen since. . .well, since the infamous "Gigli" and even that film seems more explainable in retrospect than this one.
Peter Sobczynski - eFilmCritic.com
Whoever had the bright idea of building the big screen story of salsa singer Hector Lavoe around the obnoxious ramblings of his wife, well, they made a big mistake.
Brian Webster - Apollo Guide
I would have liked to have seen a more in-depth look at the salsa movement. Still, we do get a lot of great music, and Anthony is a natural onscreen in a tailor-made role.
Richard Roeper - Ebert & Roeper
Part of the problem is that it is telling a story that has been told so many times that it feels like a remake...
Daniel M. Kimmel - Worcester Telegram & Gazette
...fails to illuminate its audience with any real understanding of Lavoe, his place in the music industry or the movement he created...the only reason to see El Cantante are for the sizzling salsa numbers Anthony performs
Laura Clifford - Reeling Reviews
It's hot stuff! Lopez and Anthony set off fireworks. In fact Lopez has never been better. As a musical showcase it scores big time.
Pete Hammond - Maxim
While the script and direction definitely drag El Cantante down, the portrait of Puchi in this film -- true or false -- places the final perfectly groomed and polished nails in the movie's creative coffin.
Bill Gibron - PopMatters
You need to give your audience a reason to care, not just assume they will because your subject was important to the history of music.
Brian Tallerico - Screentalk
Guess what. American musicians aren't the only ones who p*** their talents away on drugs. Latin salsa icons are just as self-destructive as gringos.
Fred Topel - Can Magazine
Certain to evoke a few tears from Fania fans with feelings of nostalgia for the bygone era.
Kam Williams - EURWeb
Perhaps El Cantante will inspire viewers to seek out recordings by Lavoe, who died in 1993 after battles with AIDS and addiction. They probably explain his legendary status much better than the film does.
Carla Meyer - Sacramento Bee
Lavoe was a gifted and original singer and song interpreter, but this film is unlikely to spread the word.
Terry Lawson - Detroit Free Press
Biopic cliches hamstring producer-star Jennifer Lopez's pet project, which purports to recount the rise and fall of pioneering salsa singer Hector Lavoe but devotes as much -- if not more -- screentime to his hellion wife.
Maitland McDonagh - TV Guide's Movie Guide
As with his last biopic, Pinero, director Leon Ichaso has a way of both dwelling on the most sensationalistic aspects of a genius' life while obscuring the importance and meaning of their work.
Bob Strauss - Los Angeles Daily News
Ultimately, Ichaso's passionate helming and its stars' deep commitment make El Cantante (The Singer) worth seeing, despite the film's unmistakable missteps.
Gary Goldstein - Reel.com
Despite pulsating to a hot, hot, hot salsa beat, El Cantante is often a mess, mess, mess.
Larry Ratliff - San Antonio Express-News
If you didn't know Hector Lavoe was a pioneering singer in New York's '70s and '80s salsa scene, it would be hard to glean it from El Cantante, a tepid biopic that relentlessly scratches the surface.
M.E. Russell - Oregonian
How are we supposed to view Lavoe? The film never makes up its mind. The man apparently started out as an innocent and quickly went to the devil.
Robert W. Butler - Kansas City Star
takes the unusual -- and awkward -- approach of letting Puchi tell Hector's story via flashbacks... That's somewhat akin to letting Kevin Federline narrate the Britney Spears saga.
James Sanford - Kalamazoo Gazette
El Cantante has nerve but can't follow through on the edginess of its intentions.
Ted Fry - Seattle Times
Throughout El Cantante, we're told repeatedly that everybody loves Hector, though why they should love him is a mystery. For fully two-thirds of the film, there isn't enough there either to like or dislike.
Mick LaSalle - San Francisco Chronicle
Ichaso skims the surface of LaVoe's life, hitting on the usual musician biopic cliches already seen in Ray and Walk the Line.
Sean Means - Salt Lake Tribune
The movie makes you wonder how anyone could love this screw-up and why anyone would have a problem understanding him.
Michael Sragow - Baltimore Sun
Perhaps there will come a time when a musical bio-pic doesn't hang its hat on misery, but at the end of the day, El Cantante is pretty darn good despite the odious familiarity of the ingredients.
Brian Orndorf - eFilmCritic.com
There's a lot of music in El Cantante, with Marc Anthony more than doing justice to Lavoe's insanely catchy, groundbreaking songs. It's whenever the music stops that the movie runs into trouble.
Rene Rodriguez - Miami Herald
The film's pathetic cinematography will make viewers feel like they've been through an unbearable eye test with dirty glasses.
Steve Rhodes - Internet Reviews
The stew of salsa music is delicious but the drama of drug addiction and a tempestuous marriage are nothing more than stale leftovers from many other biopictures.
Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat - Spirituality and Practice
'El Cantante' takes the life of a fascinating and complex man and waters it down into a decidedly uninspiring and vanilla biopic ...
Kim Voynar - Cinematical
Still, the musical numbers, which constitute a hefty portion of screen time, are thrilling.
Peter Rainer - Christian Science Monitor
To put it bluntly: Why should I care who Hector Lavoe was? El Cantante does nothing to answer that question.
Eric D. Snider - EricDSnider.com
Frankly, any of us could write this screenplay.
Chris Hewitt (St. Paul) - St. Paul Pioneer Press
El Cantante eventually succumbs to the typically broad biopic canvas. It hits nothing but highlights; and misses the singer's soul.
Jeffrey M. Anderson - Combustible Celluloid
...you'd learn almost as much about Lavoe and his sound if you watch Walk the Line or Ray.
Josh Larsen - Sun Publications (Chicago, IL)
Just a lot of interchangeable salsa songs and Lopez delivering a performance even Fran Drescher would call annoying.
Matt Pais - Metromix.com
El Cantante hits several of the low points in the life of pioneering Salsa music singer Hector Lavoe. But it glosses over many -- if not all -- of the high points in his too-brief life and music career.
Jeff Vice - Deseret News, Salt Lake City
Unfortunately, the movie suffers from what all musical biopics tend to: cliches.
Cole Haddon - Orlando Weekly
Ichaso takes the inspiration-explanation technique a step further, setting up scenes that echo Lavoe's album covers, which flash across the screen. Corny, yes, but sort of cool.
Phil Villarreal - Arizona Daily Star
Cantante introduces intriguing, relevant themes one minute, only to abandon them the next.
Nathan Rabin - AV Club
The vibrant music ultimately takes a back seat to the cacophonous lady at the film's misplaced center
Jan Stuart - Newsday
Lively but frustratingly shallow.
Paul Kosidowski - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
El Cantante is a special film, one that refuses to package a person's life into a comfortably familiar genre.
Bill White - Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Sean O'Connell - Filmcritic.com
Director Leon Ichaso (Piero) uses every trick in the hack biopic book, including flashback stock footage and montages of newspaper headlines flying toward the camera.
Lisa Rose - Newark Star-Ledger
Mingles every cliche of the genre with a hyperkinetic style more likely to induce vertigo than sympathy or understanding.
Frank Swietek - One Guy's Opinion
There's little more than formula in Ichaso's El Cantante.
Marjorie Baumgarten - Austin Chronicle
Lopez, Anthony and Ichaso seize the opportunity to make Hollywood's first NuYorican epic.
Armond White - New York Press
The film coasts on famed salsa legend Hector Lavoe's music and Anthony's impassioned performance, but it makes way to many concessions to the Ray mode of biopic storytelling.
Ed Gonzalez - Slant Magazine
The way this is told is so wafer-thin, so lacking in specifics, it will ultimately resonate only for salsa fanatics or members of the Latino community.
Lewis Beale - Film Journal International
Though clearly a labor of love, this biopic is so cliche-ridden and shallow that it fails to illuminate Lavoe's artistry, the musical scene, the context in which he lived, loved and died.
Emanuel Levy - EmanuelLevy.Com
The musician biopic craze dies right here; bury it to the left of Jennifer Lopez's once significant career.
Joshua Tyler - CinemaBlend.com
While the story is a composite of cliches, the salsa is grand--as is the chemistry between J Lo and her real-life husband, Marc Anthony.
Harvey S. Karten - Compuserve
I loved it. It has great acting, direction, story, and music. The sexual chemistry of the stars was palpable. Lopez and Anthony are sensational.
Victoria Alexander - FilmsInReview.com
The structure of the film only [confuses].
Annlee Ellingson - Boxoffice Magazine