Article from Slant Magazine
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From Slant Magazine

American Adobo
Cast: Paolo Montalban, Dina Bonnevie, Ricky Davao, Cherry 
Pie Picache, Randy Becker and Christopher De Leon
Directed by: Laurice Guillen
Screenplay by: Vincent R. Nebrida
Distributor: Outrider Pictures
Running Time: 104 min
MPAA Rating: R
Year: 2002
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*** (three stars out of four)

American Adobo is the latest, um, dish in the seemingly 
endless string of ethnic/food melodramas that have stuffed 
the indie market ever since Ang Lee went Eat Drink Man 
Woman. Less appetizing than Tortilla Soup but nowhere 
near as shrill as ABCD, American Adobo keeps the food on 
the backburner, letting wounded Philippine-American hearts 
simmer before a heartfelt, magical realist's New York. 
Vincent R. Nebrida's screenplay is genuinely likeable 
despite the universal, sometimes mawkish emotional 
predicaments of his characters. Mike (Christopher De Leon) 
itches for his political past at the risk of losing his family 
while the vain Marissa (Dina Bonnevie) lets her studly 
boyfriend get in the way of her happiness. The womanizing 
Raul (Paolo Montalban) must get an HIV test, Gerry (Ricky 
Davao) must own up to his sexuality at the risk of alienating 
his traditionalist mother, and Tere (Cherry Pie Picache) 
must fight off her inner-old maid. Nebrida implies Gerry's 
closet-homosexuality via the character's references to 
"Torvill & Dean" and his frustration over Forrest Gump 
having won the Oscar (coupled with his desire to be a 
creative director). There are enough clichés and "Three's 
Company"-style sucker punches present to muddy Tere's 
American adobo but after a Magnolia-style chaos unifier (no 
singing here, just some letter reading), something magical 
occurs. Director Laurice Guillen shifts her focus away from 
family settings and hones in on individual pain. Even Tere's 
final schizoid moment can't dilute the hopefulness of 
Guillen's bittersweet saga. Declarations of love are made, 
tears flow on cue with a winter's snowfall and Guillen 
stages an uncomfortably brave "coming out" ritual inside the 
hospital room of Gerry's dying lover. New Years resolutions 
are made and emotions are nakedly purged before a New 
York City that's now become all-too surreal. All the while, the 
World Trade Center hovers over the proceedings.

Ed Gonzalez
© slant magazine, 2002.