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Review: 'Easter Sunday' is a loving ode to Filipino culture

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Family holidays bring tumultuous clans together for necessary arguments, hurt feelings, resentments, inside jokes, laughter, love, reconciliation, and plenty of food and even car chases.

So far so familiar.

The difference between “Easter Sunday,” an overly broad family drama starring comedian Joe Coy, is that this extended clan is a Filipino-American family, and the cast is mostly Filipino, making it a familiar is finally cast as a Filipino character. That in itself is a welcome achievement, especially since Koi’s life is clearly reflected here, supporting the company with its winning charm. Even more so for carp. The writing is certainly sharpened, and the ending just a little happier.

Koi articulates much of his own story in this film, his feature film debut. It’s drawn from the hugely popular stand-up his comedy (directed by Jay Chandrasekhar, based on a script by Kate Angelo and Ken Chen). He plays Los Angeles comedian Joe Valencia. Joe Valencia is looking for his big acting break in Hollywood. Just as he’s navigating his family’s affairs on multiple fronts, everything comes to a head on Easter Sunday.

We meet Joe, a divorced father, on a day of conflicting obligations. His son, Junior (sweet goofy Brandon Wardell), has to attend a school meeting to discuss his mediocre grades. His own demanding mother, Susan (Lydia Gaston, arrogant, demanding, loving, and needy), wants to make sure he’s on track for his Easter celebrations. I’m always calling And he’s auditioning for a sitcom. This goes beyond the beer commercial where he famously said, “Let’s get this party started, baby!”

Joe (understandably) misses the school meeting but gives an audition, but is told they love him but want a “half Filipino accent” — which is “This show just wants funny-sounding Filipinos,” he complains to his agent. (This agent is played by director Chandrasekhar as a blinking man who constantly drives suspiciously through tunnels and loses his cell phone signal.)

When Easter Sunday rolls around, Joe heads up the California coast to Daly City and his Filipino-American neighborhood. There, his mother and his sister Teresa (Tia Carrell says this is her first Filipino role in her 40-year career) each live. Holiday meal planning. They are also fighting over something. It doesn’t help that two women happen to wear the exact same dress to church (yes, it’s an old joke). What’s more interesting is the fierce competition for balikbayan boxes filled with gifts to be sent to families back home.

A few subplots come into play as the holiday season’s revelry rages on and Joe tries to keep his sitcom potential alive. For one, Joe’s lovable but ill-advised cousin Eugene (Eugene Cordero) and his entrepreneurial endeavours, pit him and Joe against gun-toting bully Dev Deluxe (Asif Ali). It can lead to fatal collisions. , with Filipino-American star Lou Diamond Phillips, performing himself.

There’s also a brief run-in with Law during the car chase, where Law is none other than Tiffany Haddish, who cameoed as Vanessa, ex-Axe-Grinding Joe, and now carries a cop’s badge.

Not surprisingly, Haddish is pretty funny. Less welcome is the whole sloppy criminal gang subplot that detracts from the more human themes. Speaking of humanity, the lovely Eva Nobrezada does a great job as Junior’s romantic interest, Tara. She’s a confident young woman who shows the boy growing up in Los Angeles some of her values ​​about her family, which she learned in Daly City.

If you’re a Broadway fan, you might know Nobrezada from “Hadestown.” Her amazing singing ability is teased here for a few seconds. (Couldn’t they have given her more bars?) Nobrezada’s unforced delivery highlights her scenes in a film that relies heavily on broad comedy throughout. It seems particularly forced that church services have turned into stand-up routines.

Still, I can’t help but walk away with a smile. Food, family, the big karaoke scene…and spotlight Hollywood’s underrepresented immigrant community. There are worse ways to spend 96 minutes.

The Universal Studios release, Easter Sunday, was rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for its “strong language and thought-provoking references.” Run time: 96 minutes. 2 out of 4 stars.

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MPAA definition of PG-13: Parents beware. Some content may be inappropriate for children under the age of 13.

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For more AP film reviews, visit https://apnews.com/hub/film-reviews.

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