Family is everything, especially during the holidays. No, not just Christmas, Hanukkah, or Thanksgiving. Easter is just as important an event to bring families together. It is an oddly placed time of the year that Jay Chandrasekhar’s Easter Sunday comes to the theatrical table this weekend.
Featuring stand-up comedian Jo Koy, Easter Sunday is first a celebration of family, no matter how dysfunctional said family is. Whether it is Joe Valencia’s (Koy) own, broken-up marriage with a son, Junior (Brandon Wardell) in tow, feuds and broken, overzealous deals, Easter Sunday works its best when it isn’t trying too hard. Joe drags Junior up the coast to the Bay Area because he is forced to make an appearance at his mom’s Easter Sunday dinner
Amid all the familial chaos, Joe tries to land a significant part in a television show. This gives rise to a running gag between Joe and his agent (Chandrasekhar), which by the end got annoying, and a rather interesting take on the character they wanted him to play. I liked that Koy, as an actor, was trying to branch out more, but this was the first time I had seen him. His humor is solid, but the story doesn’t lend itself to him exceptionally well.
The family surrounding him does lend itself to his humor; Koy needs material to play off.
When Joe isn’t fighting for his place at Hollywood’s table, he is fending off a feud between his mom, a humorous Lydia Gaston, and his Tita, Teresa, played by Tia Carrere. Their rivalry was funny; a few bits of the film’s intended humor aren’t overshadowed by the bright cinematography or the awkward secondary story featuring Eugene Cordero and a “food truck” fiasco. Ken Cheng and Kate Angelo’s script has heart; it lacks execution and attempts to make up for it in characterizations.
Two elements of the story involving Cordero aren’t Cordero himself; he’s fine in the role but a bit stymied because of the awkwardness created by these elements. This secondary story gives Junior a bit more to do and involves Eva Noblezada’s (Luck) Ruth. Junior’s risk in asking her on a date when they don’t even live in the same city does play well into the third act. The best bit of this secondary story involves Lou Diamond Phillips, giving Cordero a chance to shine. Each character has a moment in this hodgepodge of a comedy.
Easter Sunday’s third act redeems the film as Joe realizes that by bridging his mom and Tita’s feud, he needs to mend his relationship with his family – family is essential. And, not before Asif Ali’s Dev Deluxe, another walking identity crisis waltzes onto the scene.
Either way, Jo Koy’s fans should find much to appreciate in Easter Sunday, now in theaters.
Directed by Jay Chandrasekhar
Screenplay by Ken Cheng and Kate Angelo
Story by Ken Cheng
Starring Jo Koy, Lydia Gaston, Jimmy O. Yang, Tia Carrere, Brandon Wardell, Eva Noblezada, Eugene Cordero, Jay Chandrasekhar, Tiffany Haddish, Lou Diamond Phillips
PG-13, 96 mins, Universal Pictures