Easter Sunday Review – It’s Not Perfect but It’s Ours

Easter Sunday

Filipinos are known to be a lot of things. We’re great dancers and singers, along with being nurses and doctors too. We’re also very loving and kind. If you have a Filipino friend, just ask if you can attend one of their family parties. Immediately when you enter the house, that family will treat you like one of their own. It’s that same feeling you’ll get in the movie Easter Sunday. The film is so authentically Filipino that you’ll feel like you’re part of this dysfunctional functional family.

Easter Sunday follows Joe Valencia (Jo Koy), a stand-up comedian in Los Angeles who his mother guilt-trips into visiting them for Easter Sunday. So he and his son (Brandon Wardell) embark on a road trip to the Bay Area for the “Super Bowl of Filipino families.” Upon their arrival, he finds that his mom (Lydia Gaston) and his Tita Teresa (Tia Carrere) are feuding. At the same time, he must also deal with his cousin Eugene (Eugene Cordero), who has blown Joe’s $20,000 taco truck investment and flipped it into a $40,000 bounty on his head. To survive Easter Sunday, he must find a way to garner enough cash to save his cousin while resolving the conflict between his mom and auntie.

If you’re a fan of Jo Koy’s stand-up material, then Easter Sunday will seem familiar to you. The film is loosely based on Jo Koy’s life. While that might seem disappointing for those looking for new material, funny is still funny. Screenwriters Ken Cheng and Kate Angelo recognize the profound but complicated love that most Filipino families have and just how funny that can be. I see it with my own family, and I’m sure others can relate too—whether you’re Filipino or not. Although it does help if you are of Filipino descent since you’ll have a greater appreciation for this movie.

Easter Sunday is so authentically Filipino that you’ll feel like you’re part of this dysfunctional functional family.

That’s the primary message that Easter Sunday (and Jo Koy’s stand-up) is trying to convey. Your family is as crazy as this family—crazy is universal. On the surface, Joe’s family can be a lot to handle. They’re loud, have no filter, and can be grating. However, predictably, the family begins to understand where everyone is coming from. It’s a bit sentimental and corny, but it’s still heartwarming.

Unfortunately, there’s an unnecessary plotline involving stolen goods and Joe’s cousin, Eugene that detracts from the whole heartwarming family aspect. Ultimately, this leads to a tonal shift in the flick where it goes from a heartwarming family comedy to a screwball one—a tone that fits Jay Chandrasekhar’s strengths as a director. Not to mention, it also takes away from the endearing family aspect of the film. 

Then again, it goes back to what I was saying about having those who are of Filipino descent have more appreciation for this film. We acknowledge that no matter the circumstances, your Filipino relatives will always have your back. Is it an easy cop-out to resolve the conflicts in the film? Most definitely. However, that doesn’t make it any less accurate either.

Headlining a movie for the first time, Jo Koy proves to be a natural actor. Of course, he can nail the funny side of Joe, but he’s also able to capture his character’s dramatic side with the skill of a veteran actor. At the same time, Lydia Gaston nearly steals the show as Joe’s tenacious mother with a kind spirit. Her Susan reminds me of my mother, and I’m sure audiences will also recognize part of their moms in her performance. 

Easter Sunday is the first major Hollywood studio film with a primarily all-Filipino cast. Filipinos will get a kick out of the little details. From the mounds of food on the dinner table to the creepy Santo Niño statue in the living room, we’re finally allowed to tell our story. Koy and the rest of the cast shine in a sincere and authentic comedy that will make you laugh. Is it a perfect movie? No, not by any means. But it’s ours, and no one can take that away from us.

Rating: 3/5 atoms

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