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August 5, 2022 / Universal Pictures Canada

Starring: Jo Koy, Lydia Gaston, Brandon Wardell

Directed By: Jay Chandrasekhar

Set around a family gathering to celebrate Easter Sunday, the comedy is based on Jo Koy's life experiences and stand-up comedy.

Written By Darren

Rating 3.5 out of 5

Easter Sunday wears its heart on its sleeve, delivering a delightful and hilarious family comedy that benefits greatly from the comedic talents of Jo Koy and the rest of its cast.

Everyone can relate to family drama, because even as much as everyone wants to pretend that their family is perfect, every family has its quirks. It comes with the territory, which makes comedies revolving around family love and dysfunctions easy to relate to. And that is exactly what the writers of Easter Sunday are going for, and they succeed in doing so. The film follows a struggling actor going home with his son for Easter dinner, to deal with his mother who disapproves of his career choices, his mother and aunt refusing to speak due to a fight they are having, and a cousin who is wanted by a local gangster, all while trying to land a job on a television show pilot.

Never for a second straying from the predictable formula that often accompanies family dramadies, Easter Sunday moves from one hilarious moment to another, sprinkling family values and moments of love throughout the screenplay. You can see yourself and your family in so many of the small moments throughout the film, which makes it easy for the audience to be swept up by the story. Helping set this film apart from other films with the same mold is the Filipino culture, which is not one we see too often on the big screen. Whether it be their passion for food, their religion, family dynamics, or their love of karaoke, the film does a wonderful job capturing the culture on screen. The screenplay could use some work, as it’s a little scattered at times and not all of the jokes land, especially the opening five minutes where the film takes its time to find its footing.

But when you have a short run time that keeps the plot moving at a decent pace and a talented cast, the cast is able to infuse the film with charm and joy to truly elevate the script and create an entertaining film. Comedian Jo Koy stars in the lead role of Joe Valencia, and Koy is truly hilarious. Being of American and Filipino descent, Koy captures the cross section of his character as a young man trying to make it in an industry that constantly wants to capture his ethnicity while trying to separate himself from his family traditions. It is clear that Koy improvises many of his moments throughout the film, playing off the energy and comedic abilities of his co-stars, and that is where he succeeds in his performances as he captures something authentic and funny that cannot be written in the script.

Tiffany Haddish, while heavily featured in the trailer, has only two great comedic scenes that reminds you instantly why she is one of the most in demand comedic actresses today. She and Koy are having a blast and it rubs off on the audience, creating moments that are guaranteed to make you laugh. The Broadway fan in me loved seeing Eva Noblezada in the film and getting a chance to show off her comedic chops, delivering one of the funniest moments of the film while sharing the scene with Koy and Haddish. It’s a true testament to her talent as she is able to steal the scene from two great comedic talents like Koy and Haddish, and it’s enough to forgive the film for teasing a karaoke moment for Noblezada and then refusing to let two time Tony Award nominated actress sing more than one small line.

But, it is Lydia Gaston and Tia Carrere who steal the film as Joe’s mother and aunt respectively. The two of them are priceless, getting their not so subtle digs at each other, whether it be about who’s cooking is better or who wore the same dress they both bought at Marshalls better. They are a comedic tour de force, that even after sharing a sweet moment together, through a zinger at each other which generate the loudest laughs of the film. I honestly would have taken an additional ten minutes of Gaston and Carrere going head to head, because of all the various subplots of the film, theirs had the most energy and fun of them all, as it's a silly fight that you could see happening in your own family.

While it’s certain to not make a big splash at the box office this weekend going up against the Brad Pitt starring Bullet Train, having seen both of them, I can wholeheartedly say that I preferred Easter Sunday. It’s full of heart that we do not get enough of in films today, as everything has to be a serious blockbuster, you are guaranteed to stretch those face muscles from constant laughing and the big smile the film will leave on your face as you walk out of the theatre. Bursting with heart, laugh out loud moments and all the family drama that reminds you what love truly is, Easter Sunday is the feel good film audiences need right now.

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