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Lack of humor, limited target audience hurt Papi

Romantic comedies are a good thing in the world of popular cinema. They can be fun, moving, amusing, and anything in between. They’re good for dates, as they are usually middle ground enough to appeal to anyone. These movies are the bread and butter of Hollywood. They don’t have to be good to make money.

Chasing Papi is a small film. For the most part it will fly under the radar of the movie-going public, as it is essentially an independent movie large enough to reach some mainstream theaters and to be advertised on cable television. But the ethnic-specific humor and less than adequate cast prevents the film from achieving the intended laughs.

The plot revolves around Papi, (Eduardo Verastegui), a very successful, very attractive traveling businessman who is juggling three relationships with three different women.

These women are jealous, beautiful and completely obsessed with their man and range from sassy cocktail waitress, to witty lawyer, to prissy rich girl. As can be expected, the three travel cross-country and show up at Papi’s house, all at the same time.

The stress of this situation is too much for Papi who overdoses on tranquilizers and passes out. Fearful that they will be caught, the ladies kidnap their lover … and the supposed hilarity ensues. Throughout the film, the girls, played by Jaci Velasquez, Sofia Vergara, and Roselyn Sanchez, find themselves mixed up in a drug deal, a Latin dance festival, and a Miss Latin-American pageant, all of which they breeze through as if it had been scripted.

Papi tries extremely hard to be funny and there are a few scenes that will definitely cause a chuckle, but the vast majority of the movie falls short. The main problem is that the target audience is very narrow. It’s difficult for someone who didn’t grow up in a Latino household to grasp the bulk of the jokes. The actors were picked for their looks, not for their comedic talent. The main characters are mildly entertaining but have a tendency to be too hyper to be likeable. For example, in the scene where the three vixens flee Papi’s house there is so much screaming that it teeters on the edge of nerve-racking. Most of the funny scenes have more to do with the wealth of background characters than with the stars of the film.

The last half-hour of the film is painful enough to bring tears to some. It can be compared to watching a child at a piano recital forgetting how to play “Für Elise” and stumble over the notes, fruitlessly trying to recall how it goes. It’s that bad. It’s as bad as the horrible root canal jokes that are in it.

For all of the bad qualities of this film, it is very hard to just write it off as terrible. It can be guaranteed that some people will love its quirky sense of humor. However, most other people would probably rather have a root canal.

Comedy, PG-13, Running time: 101 minutes

Contact John Duda at oraclemovies@yahoo.com