'Easter Sunday' review: Family comedy riddled with sitcom clichés
Jo Koy stars in comedy that leans on Black Eyed Peas for emotional resonance.
The "hey, my family is crazy, too!" genre expands yet again with "Easter Sunday," which puts a Filipino-American spin on the dysfunctional family tropes of comedies like "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" and "Crazy Rich Asians."
Representation aside, "Easter Sunday" never rises past standard sitcom-level clichés and plotting. Its heart may be in the right place, but its execution is as wayward as releasing an Easter film in August.
Stand-up comedian Jo Koy stars as Joe Valencia, an underemployed stand-up comic in L.A. auditioning for acting gigs. He's got a gig as a beer spokesman with a catchphrase ("Let's get the party started, ba-bay!") that is repeated many times over but is never as amusing as the filmmakers think it is.
It's Easter, so Joe heads up to the Bay Area with his high school-aged son, Junior (Brandon Wardell) to spend the holiday with family, including his overbearing mother, Susan (Lydia Gaston). Mom's ongoing petty feud with aunt Teresa (Tia Carrere) is just the tip of the iceberg of the problems at hand, which also include Joe's work-life balance, his frayed connection with his son and his dopey cousin Eugene (Eugene Cordero), who flips Joe's investment in a taco truck into swag shop on wheels.
Soon they're being chased around Daly City by gangsters looking to retrieve a pair of stolen Manny Pacquiao boxing gloves, a tenuous way to weave the former boxing champ and Filipino hero into the story. (The filmmakers don't manage a Pacquiao cameo but they do get... Lou Diamond Phillips? Eh, whatever.)
Directed by Jay Chandrasekhar, who has a role as Joe's agent, "Easter Sunday" doesn't feel like it's populated by real people; everyone is playing a riff on a character, but never anyone who would be confused with an actual person. The script by Kate Angelo and Ken Cheng backs itself into several corners that force Joe to pick up a microphone and do stand-up routines to get out of, along with a scene that uses karaoke to a Black Eyed Peas song as a stand-in for conflict resolution. It's tough when it's up to "I Gotta Feeling" to save the day. Better luck next holiday, ba-bay.
Rated PG-13: for some strong language, and suggestive references
Running time: 97 minutes