“The Fabulous Filipino Brothers” concludes with the narrator welcoming us to the Abasta Filipino American family. The Basco clan has succeeded in welcoming us viewers as part of their family right at the onset of the film. It is a warm film that brings you into the heart of a Filipino American family as if you are part of the family. It has the effect of tearing down the walls to leapfrog over ethnic stereotypes and telegraph that in North America while Filipinos aren’t exactly completely assimilated melting pot Americans we viewers can enjoy the story in a welcoming way. Its theme of love, family and culture are something all audiences should be able to identify with.
It is a story that delves into the relationship four brothers have with each other and despite big differences in character they love and support each other.
Right from the start the narrator says Filipino Americans are Americans but they retain a Filipino identity cemented by the narrator remarking is a tribal mentality. The narrator refers to this as a “jungle mentality” which sounds racist but as the narrator is Filipino it is depreciating more than racist and in fact there may be some subtle humour involved. The narrator remarks that Filipinos are Asian but they are also not quite Asian.
The publicist for the film refers to the film as a “rousing comedy” but I see it being slightly comedic and mostly in a low key way except for the hilarious and sensual food scene involving cherished Filipino lumpia, sausages, grapes and food molds. The rooster fight scene is also notably funny.
The film is more of a probe into the mentality of the four Abasta brothers with differing characteristics yet the brothers stick together. There are stretches of the movie that are completely serious discovering the nature of love, lust, guilt, depression and familial piety and love. The excuse of this interaction and exploration is the wedding of one of the brothers. I see elements of “Lumpia with a Vengeance” a classic series of films about Filipino Americans, “Parasite” and “Crazy Rich Asians”.
While the HBO series “Succession” is about a highly dysfunctional family ripping each other apart “The Fabulous Filipino Brothers” is more a celebration of family.
The film stars the four Basco brothers who are well experienced in the entertainment industry in the United States. This is Dante Basco’s directorial debut. It was co-written by Dante and his brother Darion.
It opened in several US theatres on January 7th assuming of course such theatres are actually open considering Omicron. It is available on Netflix now and is scheduled for wider VOD release on February 8th.