Although it consists primarily of an early-2014 stand-up performance by Gabriel Iglesias, “The Fluffy Movie” is framed by sequences in which actors play the comedian and his mother as they once were. In one of the skits, a 12-year-old Gabe cons his mom into letting him rent a videotape of “Eddie Murphy Raw.” But Iglesias’s act is more akin to Bill Cosby’s than to Murphy’s.
The rotund Iglesias, who calls himself “Fluffy” because it sounds better than “Fatty,” specializes in gentle observational comedy, enlivened by his flair for accents and sound effects. He was raised in Southern California by a Mexican-American single mother, so occasionally slips into Spanish. But he’s dipped both feet into the American melting pot, as he demonstrates with his theme song: not mariachi or reggaeton but Poison’s “Nothin’ but a Good Time.”
Iglesias acknowledges that his idea of a good time took him up to 445 pounds and a prognosis of death by diabetes in two years. This sets up the movie’s first routine, in which low-carb diets and gastric-bypass surgery are played for laughs. Remarkably adept at joking without words, the comic conjures a man he met at a clinic for the morbidly obese simply with rumbling, monster-movie growls.
(For the record, Iglesias says he’s lost 100 pounds, skips the bun when he eats a hamburger and now does yoga.)
“The Fluffy Movie” was filmed over two nights in a San Jose arena packed with fans. Yet it’s an intimate affair, as befits the material. Iglesias riffs on a gay man’s pass at him and a trip to India, which he decides is a lot like Mexico, just with a different style of head-bobbing. But Iglesias devotes the bulk of the monologue to his relationships with his teenage stepson and the father the comedian didn’t see for more than 30 years. The balance between the hilarious and the heartwarming is carefully maintained.
“I’m still ghetto,” Iglesias claims, but his Mumbai, Tokyo and London accents are as good as his South Central ones. He’s clearly capable of finding humor anywhere, and first-time Fluffy viewers (and Spanish non-speakers) will feel left out only occasionally. The introductory sketches are cheesy, but they provide some useful back story.
“The Fluffy Movie’s” principal weakness is that it’s not much of a movie. There’s no particular reason to watch this in a theater rather than on television. Indeed, Iglesias’s amiable style and smile-inducing commentary are probably better suited to the small screen. He can charm an arena crowd, but he can’t rock it the way Poison used to do.
Jenkins is a freelance writer.
★ ★ ½
PG-13. At area theaters. Contains sexual innuendo and obscenity. In English and Spanish with subtitles. 101 minutes.