By Erin Chew, AsAmNews Staff Writer
Families are messy living under layers of complicated dynamics. Granted, this is not limited to just Filipino or Asian families, but in Jo Koy’s new film Easter Sunday bickering, conflicts and cracks emerge in a large biracial and Filipino American family (father-son, ex-ex, sister-sister, cousin-cousin). Playing a fictionalized version of himself, the film has Koy returning home to Daly City to his supportive yet demanding family to celebrate Easter Sunday – Filipino style, and at the same time deal with the ongoing chaos which falls into his lap.
Easter Sunday also stars Jimmy O. Yang, Tia Carrere, Brandon Wardell, Eva Noblezada, Lydia Gaston, Asif Ali, Rodney To, Eugene Cordero, Jay Chandrasekhar, and Lou Diamond Phillips. The film was produced by Dan Lin and Jonathan Eirich and directed by Chandrasekhar.
At the world premiere on August 2, 2022 at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, applause could be heard from a fully packed theater when each cast member appeared on screen. Laughter broke out at the subtle Filipino references to food, religion, language and family. There was a mutual appreciation for not just the film, but for the legacy Koy has created as well as the other cast members – the majority of which are Fil-Ams who have been working in the entertainment industry for a very long time.
For the film itself, there was definitely a lot of comedic moments, Koy has a dynamic way of creating a funny story that provides insights into Filipino identity and family. However, the film’s failing is that it lacked some substance and breadth. Somewhere along the way into the film, this premise did get lost a bit with divergent plot lines, over the top and corny acting scenes, car chases and fending off loan sharks. But overall, it was entertaining and was reminiscent of moments important to Asian Americans which is family, inter-generational misunderstandings, cultural clashes and the acceptance that some things in Asian family dynamics will never change.
These themes resonate with most, if not all multi-generational Asian American families because of the differences in accepting culture and traditions. At the core of it there is a shame and self doubt of identity fueled by racism, discrimination and ideals which society dictates as the definition of being American. All this is overcome, when the realization that family will be there no matter what comes to fruition and the film and Koy’s comedy demonstrates this quite well, despite the film’s pitfalls.
At a brief introduction where Koy was introducing the film at the world premiere, he mentioned that Easter Sunday is a love letter to his family and to the Fil-Am community.
“This is such a big moment, which I want to share with all of you. I can’t stop but thank the beautiful cast, especially Lydia Gaston who plays my mom. What an actress!”
“I want to dedicate this film to my family, my identity and love of being Filipino and to my community which has made Daly City and many parts of America their own.”
After bringing his close friend – fellow comedian and actress Tiffany Haddish to the stage with whom he met nineteen years ago when he was starting out his comedian career (she plays a Daly City cop who was his ex girlfriend in the film), he highlighted how important this film, this moment is for all Americans.
“All voices of color, whether you are born/raised here, or are an immigrant of different religions and creeds need to be heard because representation matters.”
“And to know that your mom is just like my mom – complicated, been through tumultuous experiences but loves you to the end of the world, is the best gift we can give to each other”.
Jo Koy’s Easter Sunday will be released in theaters in the USA officially on August 5th, 2022, but check your local movie theater showtimes as there are some advance screenings from today.
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