August 5th, 2022
MOVIE: EASTER SUNDAY
STARRING: JO KOY, LYDIA GASTON, BRANDON WARDELL, TIA CARRERE
DIRECTED BY: JAY CHANDRASEKHAR
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 2 STARS (Out of 4)
The new family comedy Easter Sunday is a case of it being me and not you. You might find it to be a funny affair of family mischief and dysfunction. For me, I found it to be overbearing, generic, and rarely eliciting a laugh from my gut. Yes, there were a few chuckles and HA’s, but if this is what passes as a big budget comedy then god help us. That “it’s me” part might be a sign of my constant cynicism or just overall outlook of the world, but Jay Chandrasekhar’s introduction of comedian Jo Koy to the world is done in such a lame way, it’s more harmful to the career of an upcoming star in comedy. Easter Sunday has a myriad of problems, none of them having to do with the lead, but everything to do with what passes as “good comedy” today.
Jo Koy is playing a comedian named Joe Valencia, who lives in Los Angeles and is grinding to hit it big in his profession. To make it the hustle includes auditioning for possible TV pilots and in between that he’s trying to be a good dad to his son Junior (Brandon Wardell). Unfortunately though Joe still has to deal with his overbearing Filipino-American family, led by the matriarch Susan (Lydia Gaston), and with the whole family gathered for Easter Sunday dinner, Joe must deal with all the drama that comes with his wild family being in one house. Said drama includes Juniors bad grades in school, cousin Eugene’s (Eugene Cordero) taco truck turned what he calls a “Hypetruck”, which he owes debt to some bad guys that give chase, and the constant feud between his mom and Tita Theresa (Tia Carrere). All in all it makes for a wild family weekend.
A caveat that must be stated before I go further is that I had no clue who Jo Koy was, had never heard his standup, and walked in completely blind to what Easter Sunday would offer. After mentioning this I was told by friends and fellow film critics that he has Netflix specials and that he’s funny. All of that might still be true, but what you get from Easter Sunday is a far cry from what comedy is in cinema. Director Jay Chandrasekhar of Super Troopers fame is working with what plays like a sitcom script from Kate Angelo and Ken Cheng. It’s episodes of Modern Family, Family Matters or The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air juiced up with a movie budget and I’m not even sure where all the money went.
I recently have been working my way through a 20+ movie set of Jerry Lewis films and to watch the efforts of comedy in the past and now in the present is night and day. Chandrasekhar pads the film with an opening of stock footage shots of comedy clubs, terrible CGI green screen settings, constant FaceTime conversations on phones that look awful, and fake driving scenes. Nothing in Easter Sunday is filmed outside a studio setting and the majority of scenes look cheap. It’s not until Tiffany Haddish arrives in a cameo where the energy turns up and in the film’s final act where Joe’s family sings some goofy karaoke at home. If it weren’t for Koy and company to have such a bright excitement, the final result would be a disaster, but instead it’s just mildly bad.
Overall, there’s nothing to take with you from Easter Sunday. It’s a great film to highlight diversity and a comedian that deserves a chance to shine. But the problem is that we should want more. The Big Sick, Crazy Rich Asians, and what we saw in Fire Island all had comedy and great representation. Audiences should want more, not just the bare minimum, and Jo Koy should ask for a re-do, because Easter Sunday is nothing to hop around about.
EASTER SUNDAY IS IN THEATERS THIS FRIDAY AUGUST 5TH, 2022
Written by: Leo Brady