The jump from stand-up comedian to actor is pretty short, and plenty of comedians have successfully made the leap. In some cases they’ve even been nominated for awards, with several of them winning them. Like many comedians before him, Jo Koy has jumped right in to his first major feature, doing what he does best, and looking pretty green while doing it.
Easter Sunday follows the story of Joe Valencia (Jo Koy), a successful stand-up comedian trying to find a way off the road and onto TV so he can spend more time with his family. One thing has to happen before he can do TV, though. He and his son, Joe Jr. (Brandon Wardell) must travel home for Easter Sunday to spend the weekend with his family. His family however is a bit of a mess, from a feuding mother and aunt, to his sweet, idiot cousin. And it’s up to Joe to smooth things over and make things right.
Easter Sunday is loosely based on Jo Koy’s own life, and if you’ve ever watched his stand-up comedy, you are sure to recognize that several of the bits make their way into the movie. In some cases this makes for an entertaining film. But in other cases it feels like a little bit of a cop-out. It makes the film feel like it’s Koy standing on stage telling his jokes instead of acting in a movie. In fact at one point he does just that. He stands on stage in front of a bunch of parishioners, making jokes about family and religion. This puts a huge spotlight on Koy’s weaknesses, instead of showing any type of range in his abilities.
The movie is full of stereotypes about Filipino people, such as their love of Karaoke, their shady business ventures, their large dinner parties and close-knit families. This works in the same way the jokes in My Big Fat Greek Wedding worked about Greek culture. These stereotypes are even funnier if you know anyone of Filipino descent or have gone to a Filipino gathering. Because typically these stereotypes are true. It’s this part of the film that works extremely well, and brings about some of the biggest laughs.
There is no doubt that Koy has the potential to be a big movie star. But Easter Sunday doesn’t have the capacity to draw in crowds. Ace Ventura: Pet Detective did that for Jim Carrey when he was starting out as a leading man in film. By relying on his stand-up material and stereotypes, only people who have heard of Jo Koy will want to go out and see it. That in itself is a shame. Because the film is entertaining and fun, even though it needed to be a bit more than it was.
- Rated: PG-13
- Genre: Comedy
- Release Date: 8/5/2022
- Directed by: Jay Chandrasekhar
- Starring: Brandon Wardell, Eugene Cordero, Jimmy O Yang, Jo Koy, Lou Diamond Phillips, Lydia Gaston, Tia Carrere
- Produced by: Dan Lin, Jonathan Eirich
- Written by: Kate Angelo, Ken Cheng
- Studio: Amblin Partners, Dreamworks Pictures, Rideback, Universal Pictures