Butter Man: The Slickest Mexican Thief

Butter Man: The Slickest Mexican Thief

A slick Mexican heist series made compelling by nostalgia and heart


TV Show

Comedy, Drama
Abril Schreiber, Alberto Guerra, Enrique Arreola

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Okay, so we need the makeup tutorials, please!

What it's about

El Mantequilla was the most famous swindler of the 1950s, until he was known to be captured in that decade. In 1982, his son Emiliano Escamilla knows better, and he takes up his father’s mantle to find where he’s escaped to. However, on his case is Elena Robles, the first female detective in her division, and reporter Pablo Garduño, who set out to unravel his schemes.

The take

Butter Man: The Slickest Mexican Thief has gone under the radar the same way the titular criminal has evaded capture for years. Which is quite a shame, because Él Mantequilla has the charming, slick style of heist films from decades past. Through eight parts, Emiliano Escamilla takes on multiple fake identities, five of which happen to be the main identity Escamilla takes on in each episode. It’s funny to see how Escamilla gets away with some of these disguises, especially when he gets away with pulling millions from oblivious rich people just by dumb luck. However, what makes these scams compelling is how closer these get him to his real goal: reconnecting with his father and finding out the truth. Butter Man turns the caper series into a drama centered on family, mixing fun nostalgia with some heart.

What stands out

Film and TV are masters of disguises, but sometimes, these disguises don’t hit the mark. Some attempt to make them on the protagonist himself (think Superman hiding behind Clark Kent’s glasses), but some skip that and instead use different actors to portray those disguises (see Mission Impossible’s latex masks). Butter Man, with its master of disguises, had to take the makeup route to make it somewhat believable that a man can easily pull off these disguises. The series’ makeup department delivers, using ultra-realistic but feasible makeup techniques like different hair parting, painted on wrinkles, and glasses, that are definitely possible in the 80s. However, it’s the performance of actor Alberto Guerra that helps sell the illusion. He showcases some techniques on screen, but the marked difference between his different identities make it feel possible that a man like that can easily scam multiple people if he wanted to. And he pulls them off with the looks and the sleek charisma from heist films of decades past.

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