When I watched the trailer for this one, I thought it would be funny. Jo Koy is not a comic I’m as familiar with, but I saw enough to make me hopeful that his blend of material from his stand-up show and family experiences would make for a funny combination. When I saw the comedy, what I quickly noticed is that everyone is funny, not just Jo Koy. The film is packed with hilarious dialogue, messed-up situations, and I was laughing from start to finish. His family, at least on screen, is mad funny. It was exactly what I’d hoped for.
Easter Sunday stars comedian Jo Koy as Joe Valencia, a struggling actor, comedian, and single father who attends a gathering of his loud and dysfunctional family on Easter Sunday, dragging his son, Joe Jr. (Brandon Wardell) along for the ride. The film is directed by Jay Chandrasekhar, who also plays Nick, Joe’s agent, and the film is written by Ken Cheng and Kate Angelo based on a story by Jo Koy. Joe goes to see his family while in the middle of trying to get a part in a big Hollywood show, but when he arrives in town, he soon finds his mother (Lydia Gaston) and Tita (aunt) Teresa (Tia Carrere) at odds. He also finds out his cousin Eugene (Eugene Cordero) has gotten into trouble with a crazy gangster, Dev Deluxe (Asif Ali), over money he owes. Joe and Eugene run around town trying to solve the problem before dinner, all while Joe fields calls from his agent, has random encounters with police and old friends, and Joe Jr. finds romance with a local girl Ruth (Eva Noblezada).
While this is a blend of Jo Koy’s stand-up routine blended with his family experiences and may be familiar to some viewers, the humor is what sells this film for me. From start to finish, I found the situations funny, the family messiness relatable, and the dialogue witty. The secondary characters like Tito Arthur (Rodney To), Tito Manny (Joey Guila), Tita Yvonne (Melody Butiu), sister Regina (Elena Juitco), Tita Teresa, and mother along with Tiffany Haddish, Jimmy O.Yang and Lou Diamond Phillips, who play various roles in the film are a huge part of the success of the movie as each one of them are hilarious in their role and keep the audience laughing.
There are two parts that make this film so funny, the dialogue and the situations. There are so many lines in this film that just create laugh-out-loud moments. Some of the lines are about Joe’s family, like pointing out the fighting in the family. There is a line from Ruth about the family dinner: “Oh, dinner and a show.” Or moments when Tito Arthur proclaims he has a black belt and whips out a belt packed with knives and weapons. The crazy situation with Eugene creates more funny moments, like a car chase and an encounter with an ex-girlfriend played by Tiffany Haddish. Even Nick, Joe’s agent, has a running gag of hanging up on his client with various super phony reasons. Joe’s mother is hilarious when she refuses to eat at a family lunch put on by her sister Teresa and Teresa’s threats to do the same are equally funny. This film is packed with humor that families will not only relate to but enjoy laughing at. While the situation with Dev Deluxe is over-the-top crazy, if you go with it, it just adds to the humor.
The cast shines. If it weren’t for a brilliant cast with the ability to deliver pitch-perfect comedic pacing and dialogue, this film wouldn’t be nearly as good. Jo Koy is superbly funny and expressive as Joe Valencia, using his family experiences to guide the humor. He infuses his character with humor but also warmth, especially in heartwarming moments with the actress playing his mother. He also has a great dynamic with Brandon Wardell, who plays Joe Jr, and Eugene Cordero, playing his cousin. The ensemble cast works well together to provide an entertaining film. They feel like a mad, dysfunctional family. As the romantic interest, Eva Noblezada gives one of the best performances, delivering some wonderful lines and having a couple of uproarious scenes. Even the actors in bit parts, like Tiffany Haddish, Jimmy O. Yang, and Lou Diamond Phillips, deliver hilarious lines with skill.
As much as I love the comedy elements of the film, I do admit that none of this is groundbreaking. I’ve been to other films that use family drama and over-the-top situations to drive the humor. Also, if you’ve seen Jo’s stand-up routine, some of this may fall flat because there aren’t as many surprises. I also found it predictable. I knew most of what would happen on screen before it did. But what the film does well is comedy, which to me is the key ingredient to the success of this movie.
If you like Jo Koy and his comedy routine, I think you’ll love this film. Jo is solid in his acting, expressive in his comedy, and has a great dynamic with the actors playing his family. The ensemble of family and other secondary characters are absolutely, riotously funny in their roles, especially Eva Noblezada as Ruth, Joe Jr’s romantic interest. Between the fighting and joy, I think most people will be able to relate to the dysfunction and fun of this Filipino American family. I know that the family scenes shone with love but also comedy gold.
Rating: 4 out of 5 Baby Jesus
Official Website: Easter Sunday | Movie Site & Trailer | In Theaters August 5
Stand-up comedy sensation Jo Koy (JO KOY: IN HIS ELEMENTS, JO KOY: COMIN’ IN HOT) stars as a man returning home for an Easter celebration with his riotous, bickering, eating, drinking, laughing, loving family, in this love letter to his Filipino-American community. EASTER SUNDAY features an all-star comedic cast that includes Jimmy O. Yang (SILICON VALLEY series), Tia Carrere (TRUE LIES, WAYNE’S WORLD films), Brandon Wardell (CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM series), Tony nominee Eva Noblezada (Broadway’s HADESTOWN), Lydia Gaston (Broadway’s THE KING AND I), Asif Ali (WANDAVISION), Rodney To (PARKS AND RECREATION series), Eugene Cordero (THE GOOD PLACE series), Jay Chandrasekhar (I LOVE YOU, MAN), Tiffany Haddish (GIRLS TRIP) and Lou Diamond Phillips (COURAGE UNDER FIRE). EASTER SUNDAY, from DreamWorks Pictures, is directed by Jay Chandrasekhar (SUPER TROOPERS, THE DUKES OF HAZARD), from a script by Ken Cheng (series WILFRED, BETAS). The film is produced by Rideback’s Dan Lin (THE LEGO MOVIE franchise, IT franchise) and Jonathan Eirich (ALADDIN, THE TWO POPES), and is executive produced by Jo Koy, Jessica Gao, Jimmy O. Yang, Ken Cheng, Joe Meloche, Nick Reynolds and Seth William Meier. The film will be distributed by Universal Pictures domestically. Amblin Partners and Universal will share international distribution rights. The film will be released by Universal Pictures worldwide and opens in theaters Friday, August 5, 2022.
ONE-LINER: Set around a family gathering to celebrate Easter Sunday, the comedy is based on Jo Koy’s life experiences and stand-up comedy.