We celebrate Easter in August this year too Easter Sunday, a comedy film directed by Jay Chandrasekhar. This film stars stand-up comedian Jo Koy as stand-up comedian Joe Valencia. He is a struggling Filipino-American actor who attends a gathering of his dysfunctional family on Easter. Much like Eminem’s rapper role in 8 miles, this is Jo Koy’s opportunity to portray a character heavily based on himself in a feature film. Unfortunately, the end result is a bloated, unrealistic comedy that always wants to be funny, but rarely is.
Many stand-up comedians have had successful acting careers, such as Eddie Murphy, Jerry Seinfeld and Sarah Silverman. Koy is a funny stand-up comic, but if this film was the launch pad for his acting career, it’s not very strong. Much of Koy’s stand-up surrounds his Filipino family and finds humor in the cultural news of Asian people. This movie touches on a lot of that, with many jokes and scenes about what it’s like to be in a Filipino family. The script from Ken Cheng and Kate Angelo pokes fun at mothers and aunts at war with each other and their love of karaoke.
Some of this may resonate with many Filipino-American families, but while the humor works phenomenally on a stand-up stage, it never translates well in this film. The film never gives you enough of the laughs you would expect from a comedy, with only a few moments that can make you laugh. For the most part, this is a largely unfunny film with weak writing. Parts of this film feel like an opportunity for Koy to workshop some new stand-up ideas. There’s even a scene where Joe goes on stage and does stand-up comedy, but the audience in the movie laughs much louder than the audience in the theater, you’ll see Easter Sunday on.
You can see how personal this family dynamic is to Koy and why he wanted to be a part of a project that can represent Filipinos in a mainstream comedy film. There are many nuggets for the audience to enjoy, such as their love for Manny Pacquiao and a creepy statuette of Jesus Christ. However, the film tends to recycle its jokes, most of which only half-land – if at all. The characters can also feel like caricatures with humor that doesn’t work as well as it should.
One of Easter SundayThe most pressing issue is how everything feels inauthentic. After a few scenes at the family reunion, the film throws in a crime subplot that feels completely out of place. It gets worse and worse when you realize that every event in this movie happens by chance. The chances of anything happening the way they do are so low that it’s impossible to buy into the story, with characters connected in the most ridiculous ways imaginable. The film shoehorns in a car chase where Joe is suddenly driving like a well-trained stunt driver, never seizing the opportunity for a humorous situation where a single father tries and fails to escape his pursuers.
The film also features a romantic subplot that can make synchronized eyes roll to the back of every audience member’s skull. Easter Sunday is a film where everything feels either written by a screenwriter or improvised by a comedian. Nothing is organic and the only entertainment value to be had is in the bits of representation and occasional humor thrown in from other famous comedians who look like they filmed all their scenes in one day. While Jo Koy remains a phenomenal comedian, this movie is far from his best work, and you’ll get a lot more laughs by watching one of his Netflix stand-up specials.
Score: 3 – BAD
Like ComingSoon’s audit policy explains, a score of 3 corresponds to “Bad”. Due to significant issues, this medium feels like a chore to take on.
Disclosure: Critic attended a press screening for ComingSoon’s Easter Sunday review.