Easter Sunday (CREDIT: Ed Araquel/Universal Pictures)

Starring: Jo Koy, Brandon Wardell, Lydia Gaston, Eugene Cordero, Tia Carrere, Jay Chandrasekhar, Eva Noblezada, Jimmy O. Yang, Lou Diamond Phillips, Tiffany Haddish, Asif Ali, Rodney To, Elena Juatco

Director: Jay Chandrasekhar

Running Time: 96 Minutes

Rating: PG-13 for Some Language and a Surprising Amount of Guns

Release Date: August 5, 2022 (Theaters)

What’s It About?: In what I assume is a semi-autobiographical riff, Easter Sunday stars Jo Koy as Joe Valencia, a struggling comedian who’s about to land a big break in the form of a regular role on a network sitcom. Unfortunately, it couldn’t be occurring on a more chaotic weekend in his personal life. He’s a divorced dad who really wants to spend more time with his teenage son Junior (Brandon Wardell). And oh yeah, it’s Easter, and his very Catholic Filipino family very much expects him to show up for that. But they’re certainly not going to hide any of their conflicts. His mom (Lydia Gaston) and aunt (Tia Carrere) have basically decided that they hate each other, while his cousin Eugene (Eugene Cordero) has hatched a harebrained scheme that has him in deep debt with a local vengeful businessman (Asif Ali). Is there enough time amidst all this for another famous Filipino-American actor to show up as himself? You better believe it!

What Made an Impression?: Before Easter Sunday, I was really only familiar with Koy as a boyfriend of Chelsea Handler’s, but he’s been hacking it on the comedy circuit for decades, so clearly he must have a fanbase. Alas, I’m sad to report that he hasn’t captured his humor into cinematic form, or maybe it just didn’t appeal to me. It’s not easy to make that translation even with the best screenwriting intentions, but I have to wonder: did we need the subplot about violent debt collection? Couldn’t this have just been the story of a comedian dealing with his overbearing, oversharing family while stressing out about his career? Now, if you want to aim high, then aim high. Maybe there’s a successful high-wire version of this movie where that gangster-ish storyline does fit, but I couldn’t help but wonder “Why is this happening?” every time Eugene told Joe about the next unbelievably stupid thing he did.

As for the rest of the movie, I can’t say I was satisfied much there either, but I at least respected everyone’s instincts. But most of the time, I was flummoxed by how unreasonable most of the characters were being. For example, why does Joe have to spend the whole weekend on the phone with his agent (Jay Chandrasekhar, who also directed and pretty much exclusively appears on camera alone)? And why is the network finalizing casting on a Sunday? EASTER Sunday, no less! Yes, I know, plenty of Hollywood executives are Jewish, but there are also plenty of Christians in showbiz as well. Couldn’t this all wait until Monday? To be fair, for a movie to be entertaining, it doesn’t need to be reasonable. But when it’s being profoundly unreasonable, it helps when there’s at least some acknowledgement, and there’s not much of that here.

Another thing that kind of got my goat was how there seemed to be more than 24 hours on this particular holiday. The family has a full-on picnic in the park for lunch, and then a plentiful homemade spread for dinner at Joe’s mom’s. And in between all that, Joe and Eugene are driving all over town to clean up Eugene’s mess. Do we have a crew of Jack Bauers on our hands here? A movie-time clock on the corner of the screen would have been appreciated.

There is one scene, though, that really worked for me, despite being equally nonsensical. I’m talking about when Joe interrupts the priest’s homily during mass and then basically delivers his standup routine about what it’s like to have a Filipino-American family. That would NEVER happen at a Catholic church, and certainly not on Easter Sunday. But it allows Koy to be in his element, and it’s rousing enough that you can forgive the breach of decorum.

Easter Sunday is Recommended If You Like: Weirdly violent family dinners

Grade: 1.5 out of 5 Burritos