“Easter Sunday” has all the makings of a rousing family comedy: the protagonist is a struggling actor and comedian with wacky parents and a rocky relationship with his son. The film features mostly Filipino actors, with wonderful culture-specific jokes and a cast of characters who fit into stereotypical, but no less true, immigrant archetypes. Not only Filipino viewers will see their families represented here; much of it also sounded loyal to this Dominican critic.
Directed by Jay Chandrasekhar, the film finds Joe Valencia (Jo Koy) trying to get his career off the ground as producers urge him to put on a Filipino accent to book a major role. At the same time, he struggles to connect with his son, Junior (Brandon Wardell), a Gen Z high schooler whom Joe considers privileged. Generational divides are also on display at the family matriarch’s Easter dinner in San Francisco, where Joe and Junior go on a road trip.
There are a lot of really funny moments in the film, including shots between warring aunts, the high jinks of a goofy cousin, and situations involving the family’s irreverent relationship to religion. Additionally, the film includes a few winning cameos: Tiffany Haddish plays a police officer and an old flame of Joe, and Lou Diamond Phillips makes a guest appearance as himself. But things go a bit off course with a subplot involving an illegal scheme and neighborhood goons. “Easter Sunday” is at its peak when he stays close to the made-for-TV Valencia family.
Rated PG-13 for violence and foul language. Duration: 1h36. In theaters.