As if this wasn't enough, there's another plotline running through the movie. To get to Los Angeles in the first place, one of the women, Cici (Sofía Vergara), offers to drive her friend's boyfriend's car from Miami to Hollywood, where it is to be delivered to two guys in a parking lot. Sure enough, the two guys turn out to be criminals of some unspecified sort who get angry when they can't find a bag of cash that was stashed in the car. The FBI gets thrown into the mix and, apparently, fun and laughs are supposed to ensue.
Don't hold your breath on that last part, though. This much-too-complex comedy carries only a few chuckles, mostly triggered by cameos from Paul Rodriguez and famed Latin astrologist Walter Mercado. The rest of the movie's 80 minutes simply deliver one eye roll after another that will leave you wondering why four different screenwriters couldn't produce one original thought.
Much of the problem lies in the way the movie uses pretty much every comedic trick ever put to film to get this story across. There's the split-screen call-waiting sequence while Papi is on the phone with all three women at once. There's the ol' bag-switcheroo that results in the thieves mistaking a bag of bras for their bag of cash. There are plenty of double-takes where Papi thinks he's seeing the women he's dating when really he's just looking at a bunch of colleagues. And there's even a join-the-show scene in which the women turn their clothes into skimpy outfits and jump onto stage as a group of dancers in order to avoid the bandits. I could go on, but I'll let you see the movie if you want the definitive list.
Not to be outdone, the characters are painfully stereotypical. While some amount of this is tolerable from a movie that attempts to make a Latin audience laugh by poking fun at Latin culture, most every role in Chasing Papi is typecast well beyond heritage. For instance, the barmaid (Vergara) is loud and sexy; the rich girl (Jaci Velasquez) is arrogant and whiny; and the lawyer (Roselyn Sanchez) is brainy and reserved. Of course, the lawyer turns into a sultry beauty queen simply by removing her glasses and flipping her hair up in slow motion; this must be what producer Forest Whitaker refers to on the movie's Web site as "empowerment."
In fact, the only interesting character in Chasing Papi is Lisa Vidal as an unfaltering FBI agent. But this too goes sour in the end as she gives in and accepts a dinner invitation from Papi who, although slightly dejected after having been dumped by his three lovers, is clearly still on the prowl. The overall effect is a letdown -- one that you should not subject yourself to unless you are researching all the wrong ways to make a movie.
The DVD adds a commentary track from most of the cast and crew. Oddly, there are two tracks -- one in English and one Spanish -- both of which seem to be... in Spanish.
I'm chasing Papi right now!
Run time: 80 mins
In Theaters: Wednesday 16th April 2003
Box Office USA: $6.1M
Box Office Worldwide: $6.1M
Distributed by: 20th Century Fox
Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 14%
Fresh: 7 Rotten: 42
IMDB: 4.7 / 10
Director: Linda Mendoza
Starring: Roselyn Sánchez as Lorena, Sofía Vergara as Cici, Jaci Velasquez as Patricia, Eduardo Verástegui as Thomas Fuentes, Lisa Vidal as Carmen, Freddy Rodríguez as Victor, María Conchita Alonso as Maria, D. L. Hughley as Rodrigo
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