Movie Review: Easter Sunday

The story of standup comedian Jo Koy is about a long and hard trek through the pitfalls and hardships of trying to make it as a standup comedian. We all know about the few who make it big, like Kevin Hart, Amy Schumer, and Chris Rock. Two of them, Hart and Schumer, have written books about how hard it is to break into an almost impossible future that would include fame and fortune traveling the country, performing standup. This dream includes filling up stadiums, fame and making a huge amount of money. How many of us would be willing or able to pay the dues that the very few who have made it in comedy – even if you knew in advance that you would succeed? Based on how hard it is to make it by working in bad venues, living in bad hotels non stop for years, how many would be willing to even try?

I remember Jo Koy from his frequent appearances on the Chelsea Lately show several years ago. Chelsea Handler is another example of a miracle career of someone who grew up in Livingston New Jersey and then hit it big on the road as a female standup comedian. The odds of success like hers, considering how difficult it was to make it, is amazing. It is the same unlikely miracle for someone like Jo Koy, who grew up poor as a Philipino American and toiled for years before his recent success. About a month ago, Koy and Handler ended their 1 year relationship in front of the entire entertainment world but continue their 20 year friendship. One of the downsides of being famous is that your personal life is broadcast in front of the whole world.

Some time ago, Jo Koy, based on the fact that he has two high rated Netflix standup specials, was called into the office of Amblin Entertainment, the production company owned by of all people, Steven Speilberg. It turns out that Speilberg is a big fan of Jo Koy’s standup act and because of this, he decided to back a new movie idea, based on Koy’s family life. The movie is “Easter Sunday” and has been released this weekend. Having a meeting in the production studio of Amblin Entertainment is a dream of every aspiring screenwriter or actor. It had to feel for Jo Koy that his ship had finally come in and he had finally made it after so many years of hard times and standup gigs. Steven Speilberg likes your standup act and wants to make a movie about your life? It does not get better than that.

Unfortunately the new movie “Easter Sunday” which is about Koy’s extremely hectic professional and family life – included a screenplay that is both not good enough, and more importantly not funny enough. Considering the resources and talent pool that someone as powerful as Steven Spielberg controls, I was rather amazed at the relatively low quality of this film. This entire story is about the high stress and constant lack of time the main character Joe Valencia, played by Koy has to spend time with his son, his x-wife and most importantly his overbearing mother, who is a major part of Koy’s standup act. This story degrades into chase scenes and some gunplay involving a ganster and of all things the boxing gloves of Mannie Pacquiao when he fought Oscar Dela Hoya. This rapid fire manic non stop story does not work in so many areas and fails in too many attempts to be funny to ever recommend.

The Rotten Tomatoes ratings are a too low 33%, with my rating around 50% and a solid pass. In this case, I am most amazed at the low quality script of a Spielberg backed production. Hopefully Koy will bounce back with something much better.