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Easter Sunday – Movie Review

Easter Sunday is comedian Jo Koy’s feature film debut highlighting Filipino American culture.

Easter Sunday is a family comedy starring stand-up comedian Jo Koy. This film features an all-star cast. It includes Jimmy O Yang, Tia Carrere, Brandon Wardell, Eva Noblezada, Lydia Gaston, Asif Ali, Rodney To, Eugene Cordero, Jay Chandrasekhar, and Lou Diamond Phillips. Chandrasekhar directs Easter Sunday and who previously helmed the Super Troopers franchise, The Dukes of Hazzard and Beerfest.

Easter Sunday Cast

Synopsis

Jo Koy stars as a man returning home for an Easter celebration with his riotous, bickering, eating, drinking, laughing, and loving family in this love letter to his Filipino-American community.

Jo Koy finally gets his big break in Easter Sunday. I cannot believe it has taken this long to give Koy a feature film. I first saw him perform at Improv over a decade ago and knew he had something special. Jo Koy has a significant weight on his shoulder as he carries much of the film but does so with charisma and ease. This is not to take away from the film’s talented cast, who complement the story and Koy’s performance.

His co-stars play members of his Filipino family that brings plenty of crazy that everyone can relate to and plenty of representation. Eugene Codero, Jimmy O Yang, Rodeny To, Eva Noblezada, and of course, Lydia Gaston all bring their A-game to Easter Sunday. Asif Ali and Tiffany Hadish also provide great humor in their respective scenes. Director Jay Chandrasekhar is also in the film playing Jo’s agent Nick who we chatted with:

Interview with Director Jay Chandrasekhar

(Sean) First, I must say that your on-screen role in the movie as Nick, the Talent agent was rico sauve. You clean up nice, very GQ!

(Jay) Oh, I love it. I mean, they put me in that suit and they slick back my hair and all the, all the women on the set were like, how come you don’t dress like that more often?

(Sean) Yea, you clean up nice. It’s very GQ. I might have to ask you later what you’re wearing in those scenes for myself.


(Sean) In Easter Sunday, the characters are eccentric but so real and relatable as all families bicker. But Crazy families love the hardest. So how did you craft the perfect balance of heart and comedy?

(Jay) The two writers were Ken Chang and Kate Angelo. Kate has a really funny dysfunctional family and a mother who has given her a lot of grief and had a challenging father too. And so she kind of really sort of leaned into her own stories. Jo Koy, you know, his mom was a Filipino woman who came here, and they got divorced, and she had to handle all the raising the kids on her own, and she’s a tough lady. Lydia Gaston, who played Joe’s mother, would always do the first take, nice, sweet, charming, and smiley. So I’m like, “All right, Lydia, we got that out of the way.

Now it’s time to break Joe’s balls”, and she goes, “Okay.” Be mean to him because you need that in a movie like this. I’ve done some work with Arrested Development and The Goldbergs, and you need that kind of a ball-busting component to the main character’s attitude. And so we really leaned into Lydia being a tough little cookie.


Chandrasekhar Stars and Directs

(Sean) You had double duty with Easter Sunday by also directing this film. How do you pull off being behind and in front of the camera, which you are no stranger to?

(Jay) To make it onto the screen, I had to learn how to write parts and learn how to write scripts. And I just wrote an Indian guy into the middle of the movie, and then I’m like, you know, I better learn how to direct or else someone else will get cast. So I did that too. Now, I am in every movie I’ve made. I always say acting in a movie, you direct ruins two perfectly good jobs, but whatever. So I’m happy to be involved in show business and happy to be in the movies and behind the camera.


(Sean) One of my favorite scenes was the car chase with the Nissan Zs. How did you pull that off?

(Jay) Well, I made the Dukes a hazard, and that was like one but big, long car chase. So I like car chases in movies, and we shut down about eight blocks of Vancouver and got a bunch of stunt drivers, Canadian stunt drivers, and just had ’em rip it up. We went through it with matchbox cars about what it should look like. And I hired this great second unit stunt coordinator. He and I together photographed a full-on car chase. And then we put the actors in.


(Sean) Jo Koy is a great stand-up comedian. I have had the opportunity to see him perform a couple of times, and I cannot believe this is his first feature film. What makes Comedians such great actors?

(Jay) Typically, they’re not always the best actors because they’re focused on a different kind of performing, which is like a hundred percent of the time performances when they’re just always entertaining to the audience. As a film actor, you must listen, react, and then respond. So Jo, on his first day, was just sort of acting bullied. He was in the scene with Jimmy O Yang. Jimmy was cracking jokes, and Joe was getting real physical.

I said, “You know when Jimmy’s cracking the jokes, you should just be listening. Then it’s your turn to crack the joke, and he’ll be listening.” And he goes, “ah, right.” I said, “You don’t have to entertain us a hundred percent of the time anymore. This is not the standup stage.” Koy goes, “ah, okay. “And so then from then on, he listened and reacted. We wrote great jokes for him, and he came up with his own great jokes. He has the thing that you can’t buy, which is natural human charisma. And so, you know, if you take that and good writing you, you’re gonna look pretty good in a movie.


(Sean) Easter Sunday is something I will vouch for. I will watch it again and take my family to see it. Please tell Jo Koy congrats from the Nerdtropolis family.

Verdict

I give Easter Sunday 4 out of 5 stars. Jo Koy’s feature film debut is sensational! The Holiday comedy features a crazy hard-loving family that everyone can relate to. Watch Easter Sunday in theaters starting August 5th. Read more Reviews on Nerdtropolis and Subscribe to our YouTube.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Sean Tajipour is the Founder and Editor of Nerdtropolis. He is a member of the Critics Choice Association. You can follow on Twitter and Instagram @Seantaj.

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