Set in New York City over the course of one eventful year, American Adobo, is a heart-warming comedy about five Filipino-American friends conflicted with their life choices and destinies, as they party away ? sharing laugh... more »s, secrets, recipes, and lovers. Mike is a news editor in his early 40s who cannot reconcile the shallowness of his material existence with his activist past. Marissa is a beautiful but vain socialite who falls victim to her boyfriend?s sexual indiscretions. Marissa?s cousin Raul has all the charm and aggression of a Don Juan and seems to have a date not just with gorgeous women but also with destiny itself. Gerry is a closeted homosexual who bears the brunt of the struggle between his Roman Catholic mother and his HIV-positive lover. Finally, there?s Tere, an accountant in her mid-forties and still single, insecure about herself and her chances of finding love. American Adobo is a delicious treat for anyone with a family and a dream for the future. Together, these friends weave a uniquely American story about what it means to be an immigrant in a land where it seems everyone is searching for an identity.« less
Miguel B. Llora | Bay Point, California USA | 12/08/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Habitus, according to Pierre Bourdieu, is the system of "durable, transposable dispositions, structured structures predisposed to function as structuring structures, that is, as principles which generate and organize practices and representations that can be objectively adapted to their outcomes without presupposing a conscious aiming at ends or an express mastery of the operations necessary in order to attain them. Objectively `regulated' and `regular' without being in any way the product of the organizing action of a conductor." (Bourdieu, 1993) In other words, we are not in control of our own cultural production, but I would like to add, we can be self reflective and articulate our productions. Food, by it very nature forms an integral part of the creation of a Habitus - in a way, despite its controlling characteristics, a Habitus also provides one with a sense of being "home." Sounds, sights and smells are all linked together to give one a sense of identity. American Adobo does nothing less than articulate it to us, the Filipinos and to others for their cultural consumption and hopefully illumination. True to its name, American Adobo tries to pack too many ingredients into one small pan. As a Filipino, I find the film to be a warm, good-natured ethnic comedy and like many others it is deeper than then what you would expect after the initial salvo. What is really nice about American Adobo is that it does not exoticize the Filipino culture, which a film like The Debut can at time be seen to do. The film is very entertaining, but it begins to lose itself as the melodrama takes over from its original comedic track. Inundated with clichés and stilted dialogue, American Adobo does offer a formulaic collection of cinematic issues surround movies of this genre at it explores issued surrounding marital status, sexual orientation, and ethnicity. The real highlight of the film is the insight into a cultural milieu heretofore ignored in mainstream cinema - even mainstream Filipino cinema. If there is a clear cut reason to buy, watch and keep this movie that would be one of them. For those in the cross cultural arena and area of interest, I recommend this movie highly. It is a keeper in every collection.Miguel Llora"
"Made for the masses" Filipino movie set in America
AC | Ventura County, CA, United States | 09/16/2003
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I had high hopes for American Adobo. With a well-known cast & director, I thought that we Filipinos had something that can rival Eat, Drink, Man, Woman (one of my favorite foreign films). Sad to say, American Adobo was undercooked.
First, the food theme was not as effective as EDMW: I did not feel like rushing to my nearby Barrio Fiesta restaurant to order adobo (my husband & I went to a Chinese restaurant the night after we watched EDMW). Plus it never seemed like a unifying theme at all --- we are just told that by the characters saying, "no one can make adobo like Tere".
Secondly, the movie branches off into too many subplots, so I didn't feel that each individual story was developed enough. The comic scenes were too contrived, and only one made me laugh (when Gerry triumphantly snatches the misdirected mail from his mother's postman while she was too busy hugging him). As for the dramatic parts of the movie, Mike's daughter summed it up succinctly (I'm paraphrasing because I can't remember it verbatim): "Don't make a scene like one of those bad Filipino movies you & mom love to watch". Unfortunately, I don't think the director & some of the actors were listening. (What's up with Dina Bonnevie's over-acting in one of the scenes? She looked like a 3-year old having a tantrum instead of an emotionally devastated mature woman. Oh...was that supposed to be funny?).
A better movie about the Filipino-American life in the US is "The Debut". While "The Debut" may not be a perfect movie in itself, at least the experiences are more believable, the acting more realistic, and the direction is better. ...And it didn't make me cringe in embarrassment.
In summary, I thought I was going to see a refreshing Filipino movie that departs from the mired ways of movie-making in the Philippines. It turned out to be the same thing, only the location was different."
Interesting Filipino movie
Mario R. Festin | 03/13/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is an interesting movie about Filipinos living in America, and how their living in a foreign country affects their lives. A group of thirty-something friends get together for a regular Filipino meal called "Adobo", and this becomes the focus for the various activities in their lives. One is a closet gay who has mother problems, a gigolo with a problem about a possible HIV infection, a woman who has relationship problems, among others. If you want to see who are among the best Filipino actors in the Philippines (Christopher de Leon, Ricky Davao, Dina Bonnevie, Cherrie Pie Picache, and with a bonus, Hollywood actor Paolo Montalban who is of Filipino parentage), watch this movie. Admittedly there are some references to other Asian and European films on food, but this is among the better made Filipino movies last year, by a woman director, Laurice Guillen."
Good, but not great.
manny819 | San Diego, CA United States | 09/15/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"One of the things that many of the reviewers here tend to forget is that while this movie was intended to be for a wider audience, only Filipinos would be able to understand the film the way it should be. American Adobo is a film that stands on its own by being the only Filipino film to undertake two cultures and try to blend it as one.The actors weren't horrible. The story was just like a lot of films today are - predictable. As for over acting, I can name several actors that are not Filipino that overact and yet are praised for it. Jim Carrey anyone? Mike Myers? Just to name a few.This movie is worth a purchase, but if you were expecting an Americanized film, you will sorely be disappointed. I'm 21 and while my friends who did watch this film disliked it, many others thought it was well worth the watch. Just have an open mind. I did."
Lives Left To Marinate In American Adobo
Mario R. Festin | 04/18/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The infectious "American Adobo" takes its title from the Philippines' national dish, which may be any meat or vegetable marinated in vinegar, soy sauce and garlic. As prepared by Filipino Americans, it acquires other flavors and ingredients, just as the immigrants may find their lives taking on new directions and meanings over their years in the U.S. while still feeling connected to their roots in their native land. It's a feeling that is at once a source of strength and conflict. This sense of dual identity is also a source of humor for director Laurice Guillen and writer Vincent R. Nebrida. They never lose that sense of humor even as they embrace some wrenchingly painful moments in the lives of four friends who met as college classmates in the Philippines, now live in New York and still stay in close touch 20 years later. The arrival of one college pal, Lorna (Sol Ocoa), for a visit is the occasion for a celebration, and Tere (Cherry Pie Picache) has prepared one of her typically outstanding meals in her inviting Queens apartment, on a street lined with trees and gracious vintage townhouses. Everyone in the group is doing reasonably well professionally, living in tasteful quarters, but of course appearances are deceiving. Tere is a beautiful woman, ample in the Kate Winslet manner, yet despite her warm, loving nature and unfailing kindness, she has yet to attract a man worthy of her. The brittle and glamorous Marissa (Dina Bonnevie) has a successful career yet is more vulnerable than she would like to be in regard to her live-in boyfriend, Sam (Randy Becker), a laid-back singer-composer and casual philanderer. Mike (Christopher De Leon) is a New York correspondent for the Philippine Times unhappily married to Gigi (Susan Valdez-LeGoff), whose inheritance has allowed her to indulge in nouveau riche tastes and a lot of grand airs. Mike and Gigi have two children: a little boy, Mark (Jason Verdadero), and a girl, the pretty but sullen Candy (Martha Millan), in her rebellious teens. Gerry (Ricky Davao) is a pleasant-looking ad agency veteran passed over for a promotion but not giving up. Gerry has unexpectedly and rapturously fallen in love but has trouble admitting to his friends that his lover, Chris, is a man (Wayne Maugans). Gerry's struggles in coming out, especially to his mother (Gloria Romero, a formidable veteran actress) back in the Philippines, are at once the source of outrageous humor and genuine pain. * * * This wide span of emotions is handled with a sure sense of control and compassion by Guillen. The shift in tone also applies to the plight of Raul (Paolo Montalban), who is Marissa's cousin, and who arrives at the party typically late and with his latest conquest in tow. Raul is devilishly handsome and proudly callow but may be heading for a fall. Once set in motion by Tere's dinner party, "American Adobo" unfolds during the course of a year. This span of time provides a perspective that imbues the film with a sense of the eternal human comedy. "American Adobo" is an intimate, good-humored ethnic comedy like numerous others but cuts deeper than expected. The filmmakers and their wonderful cast are unafraid of emotion, and they catch us up in the lives of their people to such an extent that they can get away with some honest tear-jerking as well as some very funny business, including an amusingly contrived way of wafting a bit of romance in the direction of the lovely and lovable Tere. Not the least of "American Adobo's" delicious ingredients is lots of heart."