40 Years Young summary and ending explained

40 Years Young, or Cuarentones in Spanish, is a Mexican comedy about two chefs who participate in a high-stakes culinary competition to help their business. The film is currently streaming on Netflix. 

Warning: This article contains heavy spoilers

Plot summary

César (Erick Elias) and Paolo (Adal Ramones) are bestriends and business partners. They own a popular Italian restaurant in Mexico called L’Allegria. The restaurant is not only famous for its food but the entertainment the two charming chefs provide through jokes, songs, and performances. 

César is approaching his 40th birthday and has a vacation planned with his family to Europe. But everything goes south when he learns that his wife, Amelia (Ximena Gonzalez-Rubio), had cheated on him at the beginning of the relationship. 

She was seen double-timing César with another man named Horacio (Antonio Fortier), who has been in jail for the last 10 years. He is out now and wants to reconnect with Amelia and their son Enrique(Ricardo Zertuche), who César had been believing was his child. 

César learns about this and is left heartbroken. Amelia and Enrique move out of his house and go to live with Amelia’s mom. Things take a worse turn when his mother dies the next day. 

Paolo seems to be having his share of problems when one of his ex-spouses contacts him for $10,000 for their children’s college fees. Paolo denies having that kind of money, but she threatens him with her lawyer. 

Just when everything is going down for the two friends, an opportunity comes knocking on their door. They are invited to be part of a week-long cooking competition in Cancún organized by ‘Delicacies’ magazine. They’ll be competing against top chefs of Mexico, and the winner will take back $20,000 at home. 

Paolo convinces César to participate in the competition with him, and the two set off to Cancún. They are staying in a beautiful hotel surrounded by beaches. Paolo tries cheering his friend up, but César stays gloomy. 

The pair end up passing the preliminary round. To celebrate, Paolo forces César to go sightseeing with him. They meet two women- Naomi (Gaby Espino) and Selina (Sonia Couogh), who are there for a vacation. 

Paolo immediately hits it off with Selina and flirts with her. Meanwhile, Naomi goes cave swimming. She panics when she sees a water snake. César goes to save her, but due to her hysterics, she ends up slitting her leg because of a sharp rock, and César ends up with a sprained ankle.  

If you have any doubts about the ending, here’s a complete breakdown.

40 Years Young ending explained in detail:

An eventful birthday

Despite the leg injury, César and Paolo win another round of the cooking competition and are now in the semi-finals. Paolo goes to meet Selina, leaving César alone. Later that night, César talks with Enrique on the phone and is in seemingly positive mode.

He decides that he’ll enjoy the rest of the stay instead of grieving over his problems. 

He then goes to relax at the beach. Naomi finds him, and the two have a heartfelt conversation that César seems to be enjoying a lot. 

The next day, Amelia contacts Paolo and shares her intention to come to Cancún. Paolo looks annoyed and tries telling her not to do that, but she doesn’t listen and cuts the phone. Since it was César’s birthday and he looked in a good mode, he decides not to tell him. 

Paolo rents a yacht to celebrate César’s birthday and invites Selina and Naomi. Paolo and Selina decide to go swimming, leaving the other two alone on the yacht. 

Naomi tells César about her past and César talks about his late mother. The two end up getting locked in the washroom of the yacht and share a kiss. The moment of passion is broken when César receives a call from Amelia. 

The unexpected surprise

The director of the cooking competition informs Paolo that there are some changes in the next round to make things spicier. The judges will be introducing a surprise ingredient that is supposed to be involved in the dish. 

The ingredient turned out to be Serrano Ham. César shares that he hates ham. While the two are cooking, Paolo finally tells César about his conversation will Amelia. César gets very angry and asks Paolo to stop meddling in his life because he doesn’t need a nanny. The two get in a fight and Paolo storms out of the competition. 

César ends up changing their original dish and making a Serrano Ham sandwich. But luck seems to be on their side as they get into the finals. The two are extremely happy and apologize to each other for their outburst. 

Their celebration is interrupted by Naomi. Paolo leaves the two alone, and they share another kiss. Naomi also suggests to César that he should ask for another DNA test and be present for it this time, hinting that Amelia might have hindered the last results. 

The next day César is in an extremely happy mood and even talks about marrying Naomi. He tries calling her, but she doesn’t answer. 

The receptionist of the hotel gives Paolo a note written by Naomi and Selina, saying their goodbyes. Paolo eats up the note when he sees César approaching him and decides against telling him about the departure of the two women.  

The happy goodbyes

Amelia arrives at the resort with Enrique. She meets with César, who is taken by surprise. There’s evident tension between them. Amelia tries apologizing, but César doesn’t let her complete. He tells her that he wants another DNA test for Enrique, and she agrees. 

The father and son duo spend some time alone. César is evidently in a bad mood. Paolo finally decides to tell him about the departure of Naomi and Selina. The two go to the airport, hoping to share a goodbye. 

César asks Naomi about their future together, but Naomi lets him down, saying that she does not want to get attached to anyone at the moment. They share one last kiss before Naomi leaves with her friend. 

This worsens César’s mood, and Paolo goes to the competition alone. César returns just in time for dessert time, and the two friends have a blast making the dessert together. They end up winning the second prize. 

Despite not winning the cash prize, the two enjoy a celebratory drink together and have fun in the pool. 

The movie ends with César, Amelia, Horacio, and Enrique waiting for the DNA test results at the hospital. The results arrive and confirm that Enrique indeed is Horacio’s son.

Despite this, the trio comes up with an arrangement that Enrique will spend weekdays with Amelia and alternate weekends with César and Horacio, respectively. 


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