Here’s the latest from the crossroads of faith, media & culture: 08/01/22

Filipino families are funny. Take my word for it. I married into one. I’m not saying they’re any crazier than Irish families (certainly not mine) but they’re as quirky as the rest of us. Throw in the influence of the Catholic Church and you’ve got a lot of comedy fodder there. That’s why I leapt at the opportunity to talk with red-hot comedian Jo Koy (who has a pilot deal with ABC) and veteran actress Lydia Gaston (whose credits include such TV series as The Sopranos and The Blacklist) about their new family comedy Easter Sunday which inexplicably arrives in theaters this Friday (8/5). I asked Jo about that but, first, a bit about the film’s plot which finds him playing Joe (with an e) Valencia, a rising stand-up comic, struggling actor and single father who returns home for an Easter celebration with his riotous, bickering, eating, laughing, and loving family led by his mom and family matriarch Susan Valencia (Gaston). Okay, that’s enough about the plot. Our conversation follows the trailer the below.

JWK: The first question that comes to my mind is why are you releasing a film called Easter Sunday in August?

Jo Koy: That’s a great question! And a valid question. We have a great answer. The movie was shot perfectly in time for release in April, in time for Easter Sunday. Unfortunately, theaters weren’t open yet due to Covid. (Rather) they were open but people weren’t going. We just wanted to make sure that we got the best audience for this movie so we delayed it a few months and released it in August. We weren’t gonna change the name because the name is what the movie is all about. You don’t need to wait for Easter to watch this movie. It’s just a beautiful family movie. You can watch it any time of the year.

JWK: I actually married into a Filipino family so I kind of relate to this story. I don’t think there have been a lot of movies about the Filipino-American experience. What are you hoping this movie accomplishes?

JK: I don’t want to hope for anything! I know for a fact that this movie is gonna open a lot of doors and finally show Hollywood that, it doesn’t matter what your ethnicity is, you’re gonna relate to it. Every voice is heard here. Identity is important. This movie provides that for people. You work with Filipino people – just like yourself, you live with one – and the thing is some have accents, some don’t. You get to hear us and you get to live with us for a couple of hours. Then at the end of the day you’re gonna go “Oh, we’re just like ’em!” You know what I mean?

JWK: It sorta reminds me of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, a Filipino version.

JK: Yeah! That’s a great example! That’s a great comparison because that’s exactly what this is. It’s love letter to the Filipino community but on top of that you’re gonna learn about our culture and you’re gonna relate to it. You’re gonna laugh with us and not laugh at us.

JWK: What did the two of you bring from your own lives and experiences into the film?

Lydia Gaston: I’m also a mom. (My daughter) is now 24. Also, my mom was a very hands-on mom – on all six of us. She was there all the time. I also was a mom like her although it only worked up to a point because, you know, my daughter was raised in the United States. I was raised in the Philippines so there was a little bit of a cultural thing going on there but I definitely had a lot to pull from (in) playing Jo Koy’s mom.  

JWK: What do you hope people take from the film?

LG: I would like (that) what they would feel like is to celebrate their family and go home to their families and value them even more because this film really shows that even though we’re crazy. you know, family’s always there and they’re always there for you to come home to.

Note: My review of Easter Sunday will run on Friday.

John W. Kennedy is a writer, producer and media development consultant specializing in television and movie projects that uphold positive timeless values, including trust in God.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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