Jo Koy is brilliant. The way he performs is antsy mixed with frantic and cocksure. You just never know what’s coming next. In my opinion, he’s one of the best stand-ups working today.
He engages the crowd when performing live, continually returning to people in the front row, making them a part of the act. He often works blue, but he mostly centers his comedy around his family when not going full-tilt dirty. Doing this makes it possible for the audience to connect with what he has dealt with or is currently dealing with in his life. “Easter Sunday” is no different.
“Easter Sunday” is inspired by Koy’s routines on stage, but here we get to see him in action with the crazy family members he’s always going on about. Though they’re actors, not really members of his family, you wouldn’t know it by how the cast connects with one another, especially Koy! The movie actually feels a lot like a television sitcom. Interestingly enough, the character he plays is actor Joe Valencia. He’s trying to land a part in a sitcom during the movie.
Every year comes Easter dinner with the fam. This one, though, is smack dab in the middle of Jo’s shot of getting his big break. So far, he has only been in a beer commercial that’s pumped up his ego and given him some acclaim in town because he used a catchphrase where he said, “Let’s get this party started!” Now, it’s shouted back at him everywhere he goes. Though it gets him recognition, he’d like to move on to something bigger and better. His agent Nick, played by Jay Chandrasekhar of Broken Lizard fame, who also directs the movie, calls him constantly getting Joe in trouble with his mom Susan, played by Lydia Gaston. Nick is close to getting Joe an audition. That might be all well and good, but it isn’t crucial to his mother that he get the part. She wants to see her son and, come hell or high water, he better be at her house for Easter dinner. Period.
Then there’s the cousin Eugene (Eugene Cordero), who is perfect in Joe’s mother’s eyes. Not so much in Joe’s. Joe finances a taco truck for them, and Eugene, without permission, buys a different type of hype truck. He sells random things from it, not food, in the middle of the night. Most of those items; are stolen goods. This is where the film takes a deep dive into an unimaginative, flat storyline with gangsters and car chases. None of this was necessary. The movie was better without any of it. Though it gave actor Lou Diamond Phillips a part in the film, the role of playing himself, it wasn’t written very well and was stiff.
Tiffany Haddish is spectacular as a police officer who pulls Joe over. Walking to the driver’s side window, she recognizes her ex-boyfriend. After she gives him a hard time, they chat a little. With the typical Haddish charm, she looks at Joe’s son and tells him she could have been his mama. I wish she had been in more scenes. She had the theater roaring.
Several moments seem to be straight from his stand-up act. Joe makes fun of himself and everyone in his family. You will enjoy these, especially if you completely relate to them. It’s anybody’s guess as to whether Joe will be able to get through this Easter Sunday and back to L.A. on time to get his role. This depends on if he can get his mother and aunt Teresa (Tia Carrere) to get along and be nice to one another. Everyone prays they will just get through the meal without killing each other. This is what the film ultimately comes down to. Spend time with family while you can. Make them more of a priority. If you don’t put them first, thinking only of yourself, you might not get what you want… but you might get something better.
Directed by: Jay Chandrasekhar
Written by: Ken Cheng, Kate Angelo
Starring: Jo Koy, Jimmy O. Yang, Tia Carrere, Brandon Wardell, Eva Noblezada, Lydia Gaston, Asif Ali, Rodney To, Eugene Cordero, Jay Chandrasekhar, Tiffany Haddish and Lou Diamond Phillips
Rating: PG-13 (Some Strong Language, Suggestive References)
Runtime: 1h 36m
Genres: Holiday, Comedy
Producers: Dan Lin, Jonathan Eirich
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Release Date (Theaters): Aug 5, 2022 *Wide