American Adobo

In the tradition of such films as LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE (1992), EAT DRINK MAN WOMAN (1994), WHAT'S COOKING and WOMAN ON TOP (both 2000) and TORTILLA SOUP (2001), this slight slice of hyphenate life uses food as a metaphor for the complicated relationships between friends and family, in this case five Filipino-Americans in their late thirties and early...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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In the tradition of such films as LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE (1992), EAT DRINK MAN WOMAN (1994), WHAT'S COOKING and WOMAN ON TOP (both 2000) and TORTILLA SOUP (2001), this slight slice of hyphenate life uses food as a metaphor for the complicated relationships between friends and family, in this case five Filipino-Americans in their late thirties and early forties. They met in college in the Philippines, and now all live in the New York area. Tere (the aptly named Cherry Pie Picache) is the group's center, and its star cook: Her signature dish is adobo, a pork dish whose seasonings reflect the Philippines' culinary diversity. But while Tere holds her friends together, she's never been able to find a man with whom to settle down. Cousins Marissa (Dina Bonnevie) and Raul (Paolo Montalban) provide the group with glamour, but he's a cruelly compulsive womanizer and although she's never without a boyfriend, her current beau, musician Sam (Randy Becker), is frequently unfaithful. Mike (Christopher De Leon), the most politically committed of the group, edits a Filipino-language newspaper. He's married to Gigi (Susan Valdez-LeGoff), from whom he's become increasingly distant — especially since she inherited a large sum of money and wants to do nothing but play mah-jongg all day — and is dismayed by his teenage daughter's American ways. Plump, sweet-natured Gerry (Ricky Davau), a successful art director, is under unrelenting pressure from his elderly mother (Gloria Romero) back in Manila to get married. Trouble is, Gerry is gay and in the closet; in addition to telling his friends his elusive love, Chris (Wayne Maugans), is a woman, he must cope alone with the fact that Chris has AIDS. In addition to their personal woes, the friends must deal with American preconceptions about Filipino culture. Though clearly well-intentioned, this cross-cultural soap opera is painfully formulaic and stilted. Though the actors are all fluent in English — and one of the film's strengths is the fluid mix of English and Tagalog that defines their conversations with each other — their characterizations are, for the most part, surprisingly stiff and mannered — they verge on the amateurish. Since director Laurice Guillen was herself a well-known actress and Bonnevie, Davao, De Leon and Picache are all veterans of the Filipino screen, you'd expect their performances to be the movie's saving grace; instead, they further undermine an already predictable script.

MIXED-ISH - In "mixed-ish," Rainbow Johnson recounts her experience growing up in a mixed-race family in the '80s and the constant dilemmas they had to face over whether to assimilate or stay true to themselves. Bow's parents Paul and Alicia decide to move from a hippie commune to the suburbs to better provide for their family. As her parents struggle with the challenges of their new life, Bow and her siblings navigate a mainstream school in which they're perceived as neither black nor white. This family's experiences illuminate the challenges of finding one's own identity when the rest of the world can't decide where you belong. (ABC/Kelsey McNeal)
MYKAL-MICHELLE HARRIS, ARICA HIMMEL, ETHAN WILLIAM CHILDRESS

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