The Fabulous Filipino Brothers Review: A Solid Mid-Budget Comedy That Finds Beauty In The Chaos

Weddings are a big deal in every culture. They're joyous occasions that mark the joining of two lives together. But the months and weeks prior, plus the day itself, can be super crazy. Everyone involved is running around to make sure that the festivities are going as planned. Meanwhile, they also want the betrothed and their guests to have the best time possible. Because of all the beautiful chaos that occur during weddings, they're the perfect places to find interesting stories. And that's probably why so many movies take place at weddings.

The latest feature film to highlight the ritual of love is "The Fabulous Filipino Brothers." This movie marks the directorial debut of beloved "Hook" and "Avatar: The Last Airbender" star Dante Basco and is truly a family affair, much like weddings themselves. In addition to starring alongside his real life brothers (and an incredible amount of their family and close friends), Basco also co-wrote the script with his brothers and sister. Separated into four vignettes, we are guided through the story of four brothers confronting their issues with love, family, and culture ahead of a highly controversial Filipino wedding. "The Fabulous Filipino Brothers" picks up where the landmark Filipino American film "The Debut" left off by pulling the curtain back on the rarely represented Filipino culture in America, but mixes in a bit of "Pulp Fiction" and "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" this time around.

Beauty In The Chaos

Despite heavily focusing on Filipino and Filipino American culture, "The Fabulous Filipino Brothers" tackles some very universal themes. Everyone can relate to having a crazy family. A lot of people suffer from mental illness and find themselves drowning in depression after a serious break up. And who doesn't contemplate their legacy or the impact that they'll leave behind when they're gone? These things are prevalent in human beings all around the world regardless of the color of your skin. But where this movie gets interesting is adding the layer of representation on top of it. We've seen a plethora of films and shows that showcase these themes through the lens of a straight, white person. But to see them addressed by people of color in Hollywood adds a new twist to the genre. Honestly, it shouldn't be a "new twist" because Filipinos have been in this country and in the entertainment industry for a really long time, but it has to start somewhere. And obviously, the modern mainstream exposure for Asians and Asian Americans arguably started with "Crazy Rich Asians," but neither that movie nor this one is a catch-all for the Asian experience in this country. The Abasta family is not crazy rich, they're blue collar. But their experiences leading up to the wedding are relatable and a diverse audience can find something to connect with somewhere in the movie.

Telling the story in four vignettes is a very fun way to see these events unfold. Again, like a wedding, this storytelling device is a bit chaotic by nature, but it proves to be effective here. You can definitely pick up on the "Pulp Fiction" inspiration with the time jumps and the plucked-from-life humor, but the violence isn't as explicit. "The Fabulous Filipino Brothers" also shares some DNA with "Four Room," another film told through vignettes that's set in different rooms in the same hotel on New Year's Eve. If there was something to really critique here, I do wish that Basco pushed things a little further in some places. For example, in his section where his character Duke goes back to the Philippines for a business trip before the wedding, he uses some clever visual gags and sharp camera movements in some places. I would've liked to see more of that because not only were they fun, but it would have further set this vignette apart from the others visually. Of course, insanely beautiful establishing shots of the homeland did that too, but it's a really minor criticism that didn't really impact my enjoyment of the film.

Life In The Fast Lane

The unique approach to this kind of story was fueled by some excellent performances. All four Basco brothers (Derek, Darion, Dante, and Dionysio) shined, which was a bit expected as they are the titular characters of the film. But Darion and Dion really stood out to me. Known for his roles in "City Guys," "The Cleaner," and "Race The Sun," Dion Basco typically plays a funny guy and he's very good at it. Since his character in "The Fabulous Filipino Brothers" is based on him, having this demeanor clearly comes naturally. However, David Abasta has a lot of layers (not saying that Dion doesn't). For most of the film, especially in his vignette, he's the comic relief. He really emphasizes the comedic part of the "dark comedy" equation they're looking for here. But Dave is also the emotional center of the film and the family. He may not be taken seriously most of the time, but when he drops his truth bombs, he hits his target dead on and leaves a serious impact. You may not be expecting the funny guy to get real with you, but there's truth in comedy and Dion Basco really highlights that well. As they say in the movie, "Dave's weird could be the light at the end of the tunnel."

On the flip side, Darion Basco embodies the "dark" half of this dark comedy. His Danny Boy has been heartbroken for two years and basically stays in his electronic music den/niece's playroom for the majority of the time. That is, until he meets Theresa on a dating app and goes on a surprising date. Darion's performance is so raw and endearing; you really feel for him and what he's going through. He goes through such a range of emotions in a relatively short movie that you can't help but root for him to succeed. In my interview with Dante Basco when we talk about the great performances in the movie, he says that he got to work with Ferraris that have been forced to drive in the slow lane for the majority of their careers. Based on his performance in "The Fabulous Filipino Brothers," Darion Basco is the most tricked-out Ferrari allowed on the streets with extravagant rims, tinted windows, an ostentatious fin, and a vanity plate. He's the total package. Hopefully someone in Hollywood takes notice of him, because he has such incredible potential for a number of roles out there.

Like Halo-Halo Before You Stir It Up, It Has Layers

As a movie critic, I enjoyed "The Fabulous Filipino Brothers." It makes me yearn for the days of the mid-budget comedy that would launch a star from the mid-card to the main event. More movies like that need to exist these days because you don't need to feel like you've run a marathon after every movie you see. (Honestly, a four-hour cut of "The Batman" is excessive.) There needs to be a lot more middle ground between the super indie and the massive blockbuster. Sometimes, you just want a fun, compact story that makes you laugh and makes you think, but a few steps up from a Hallmark movie. In this movie, we really get that sweet spot.

But as a Filipino American, I felt this movie in my bones. Gone are the days of Asian Americans being portrayed as the model minority onscreen. Just like everyone else, they're complex and flawed individuals. "The Fabulous Filipino Brothers" in an important step forward in that direction, which has unfortunately not always included Filipinos in the traveling parties. Like "The Debut" before it, this movie showcased Filipino culture in a great way and it feels so good to be represented. Plus, after enduring this ongoing pandemic where big ass Filipino parties has to be put on hold for years, seeing this wedding onscreen made me smile because it truly reminded me of my crazy family and all of our wild stories. It's definitely not the same, but watching "The Fabulous Filipino Brothers" is a San Miguel beer, a Magic Mic karaoke machine, and a comment about my weight away from putting me right back in the middle of a classic Filipino party.

/Film Rating: 6.5 out of 10