“Easter Sunday” has all the makings of a rollicking family comedy: The protagonist is a struggling actor and comedian with wacky relatives and a rocky relationship with his son. The film features mostly Filipino actors, with wonderful, culturally specific jokes and a cast of characters that fit into stereotypical, but no less true, immigrant archetypes. Not only Filipino viewers will see their families represented here; much of it rang true to this Dominican reviewer, as well.
Directed by Jay Chandrasekhar, the movie finds Joe Valencia (Jo Koy) trying to get his career off the ground as producers pressure 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 school student Joe views as privileged. Generational divides are also on display at Easter dinner at the family matriarch’s home in San Francisco, where Joe and Junior take a road trip.
There are many genuinely funny moments in the film, including jabs between the warring aunties, the high jinks of a bonehead cousin and situations involving the family’s irreverent relationship to religion. Plus, the movie includes some winning cameos: Tiffany Haddish plays a police officer and old flame of Joe’s, and Lou Diamond Phillips makes an appearance as himself. But things veer a bit off course with a subplot involving an illegal scheme and neighborhood goons. “Easter Sunday” is at its strongest when it stays close to the Valencia family, which is made for TV.
Rated PG-13 for violence and some strong language. Running time: 1 hour 36 minutes. In theaters.