Chasing Papi

It takes effort to make a movie as bad as Chasing Papi. This is a film whereupon leaving, the viewer will exit the theater will a lower IQ than when he/she entered. It fails in nearly every respect, especially in dispelling stereotypes. For once, the Latinos in the film are not portrayed as gang bangers or maids, but all of the leftover stereotypes are there, as well as some that are for other racial groups. The characters are so simplistic that anything offensive seems even more so, and they are dumb, which makes everything worse. The title character, Papi (Eduardo Verastegui), is a Latino studmuffin. All women fall for him, and he made the mistake of dating three women simultaneously.

Cici (Sofia Vergara, Big Trouble, The 24th Day) is a waitress in Miami, Patricia (Jaci Velasquez) is a spoiled rich girl from New York, and bookish Lorena (Roselyn Sanchez, Basic, Boat Trip) is a lawyer from Chicago. They all fly to Los Angeles to surprise Papi, and discover each other. In a pretty pathetic oversight for director Linda Mendoza, all of the license plates in 'California' look mysteriously like the plates from Florida. This just shows how little attention was paid to making this film. And oddly enough, it took four people, Laura Angelica Simon, Steve Antin (Gloria, Monkey Zetterland), Alison Balian (The Shrink Is In) and Liz Sarnoff to come up with this fluff.

Fluff is an apt word, since Mendoza probably wanted to make a zany comedy with three Latina leads, exacerbated by the fact that the three are in competition with each other. Unfortunately, everything has a contrived, artificial feel to it, as if Mendoza is stretching even to its short running length. Papi, stressed over the predicament he is in, drinks and pops pills, only to pass out when confronted. The three women wait for him to recover in order to force him to choose, but the film takes a stupid turn when they get involved with a bag of money and Papi goes missing.

It has a PG rating, which is increasingly rare these days, but only because there is nothing too risque. Aside from blatant stereotyping, the most offensive thing about Chasing Papi is how the film insults nearly every aspect of a viewer's intelligence. Papi isn't on screen long enough for anybody to figure out why women adore him so much. Sure, he looks great and has a sexy accent, but come on, he's not the only one. Sanchez's Lorena wears glasses and doesn't feel attractive, although just looking at her proves otherwise. And it's a pretty bad debut for singing sensation Velasquez. Demographic trends show that Latinos will soon be the largest minority in the country, which makes them a tempting target for filmmakers. Hopefully, this will mean more Latino-themed movies to hit theaters. Sadly, for every good one like Girlfight or Real Women Have Curves, there are bad ones like Gabriella and Chasing Papi.

Mongoose Rates It: Really Bad.
1 hour, 20 minutes, Rated PG for mild sensuality and language.

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