[Screen It]


(2022) (Jo Koy, Brandon Wardell) (PG-13)

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Comedy: A standup comedian tries to juggle various responsibilities and conflicts as he and his son spend time with his mom and family for Easter.

Joe Valencia (JO KOY) is a standup comedian best known for appearing in a beer commercial with a catchphrase everyone knows. His agent has managed to land him a possible major role in a network sitcom, but Joe doesn't want to use a heavy Filipino accent as requested.

As he tries to sort that out, he sets out for his mother's home in Daly City, CA with his teenage son, Junior (BRANDON WARDELL), for the Easter holiday. While Junior gets to know local girl Ruth (EVA NOBLEZADA), Joe tries to make peace between his mom, Susan (LYDIA GASTON), and aunt, Theresa (TIA CARRERE), with the rest of the family hoping for a peaceful resolution of the spat before dinner time.

Meanwhile, Joe must contend with his cousin, Eugene (EUGENE CORDERO), who borrowed money from him to start a food truck business, only to run afoul of local criminal Dev Deluxe (ASIF ALI) who Eugene now owes $40,000 to.

With Joe running into his old flame turned local cop, Vanessa (TIFFANY HADDISH), as well as local celebrity Lou Diamond Phillips (LOU DIAMOND PHILLIPS), he tries to figure out how to get that money, keep the peace in the family, and get back to Los Angeles in hopes of landing that sitcom role.

OUR TAKE: 4 out of 10

Perhaps it's just me, but if I were releasing an Easter related movie, I'd probably place it somewhere on the calendar close to -- oh, I don't know -- maybe Easter. Yes, movies live on forever and are consumed year-round after their initial release, but are you really going to get audiences flocking to such a film in the dog days of summer?

Okay, maybe just for some air conditioning relief from the sweltering outdoors, but unless one is a fan of stand-up comedian Jo Koy and his brand of Filipino-American comedy, that's likely the only other reason people might show up for this below average offering.

I'll admit I'm not familiar with Koy and his standup act, so I went in without any expectations of what sort of humor might be presented in this nearly 100-minute comedy. But I was hoping for something better than this loosey-goosey approach at filmmaking and storytelling, although once I saw that the man behind the camera was Jay Chandrasekhar, it sort of made sense.

He's one of the members of the Broken Lizard sketch comedy group responsible for such awful films as "Super Troopers" (and its sequel), "Club Dread" and "Beerfest." While not as nails down the chalkboard gratingly bad as those, this one still feels forced and sloppy at times.

Written by Ken Cheng and Kate Angelo the story revolves around Koy playing a standup comic named Joe Valencia who's trying to land a recurring role on a TV sitcom, but doesn't want to play the part with a heavy Filipino accent as urged by his agent (Chandrasekhar). As he tries to make a decision about that, he drives from Los Angeles to his original hometown of Daly City -- with his teenage son (Brandon Wardell) -- where he's hoping for a nice Easter Sunday holiday with his family.

But his mom (Lydia Gaston) and aunt (Tia Carrere) are in the middle of a family feud spat, and his cousin (Eugene Cordero) owes $40,000 to a local criminal by the name of Dev Deluxe (Asif Ali). Joe could turn to local cop Vanessa (Tiffany Haddish) for help, but he cheated on her in the past when they were a thing, while local celebrity Lou Diamond Phillips (playing himself) shows up as a possible solution to one of Joe's problems.

The film plays off the usual dysfunctional family holiday gathering storyline that's fueled many a cinematic offering before this one, along with the harried single parent trying to do right by his kid but ends up never being there when needed.

From what I've read, Koy brings many related elements of his standup act regarding his Filipino-American family to the film. While that might play well with that demographic simply for being represented up on the screen, the material simply isn't that good.

It's definitely weighed down by the Broken Lizard-ish subplot revolving around the local loan shark criminal. And while the other subplot featuring a potential budding romance between Junior and a local girl (Eva Noblezada) has some potential, it's malnourished and ends up squandered in favor of the other elements.

In the end, it wouldn't have made any difference if "Easter Sunday" was released around its titular time or anywhere else on the calendar. It simply isn't that good and thus rates as a 4 out of 10.

Posted August 5, 2022

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