Filipino Family Comedy Feels Both Fresh and Familiar

By Mark Fields

It’s funny how movies tightly focused on an unfamiliar cultural microcosm, such as an immigrant Filipino family in California, can nevertheless end up feeling so universal. Such is the case with Easter Sunday, a semi-autobiographical comedy starring stand-up Jo Koy and based on his material and life story. Koy plays Joe Valencia, a struggling L.A. comic and actor with a complicated, raucous personal life that only becomes more so when he returns to his Filipino family to celebrate Easter Sunday. Featuring an early entirely Asian cast, the film is packed with references that are both incredibly culturally specific and yet strikingly familiar to anyone with parents and cousins and children. Koy has a beguiling onscreen comfort in this fictionalized version of his own story, and he has surrounded himself with very funny people in supporting roles, including Eugene Cordero, Tia Carrere, Jimmy O. Yang, Tiffany Hadish, and even Lou Diamond Phillips. You’ll laugh a lot, you’ll cry a little, and you’ll come out of the theater wanting to call your mom.

Mark Fields
Mark Fields has reviewed films for Out & About since October 2008. In addition, he has written O&A profiles of documentarian Harry Shearer and actress Aubrey Plaza. Mark also has written on the movies for several publications in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and his home state of Indiana, where he also served as on-air movie critic for Indianapolis’s public radio station. Mark has been an adjunct instructor of film history at Rowan University since 1998. A career arts administrator, he is the executive director of Wilmington’s Grand Opera House and now lives on Market Street. Mark spent the fastest 22 minutes of his life as an unsuccessful contestant on Jeopardy…sadly, there were no movie questions.