Directed by: Laurice Guillen
Starring: Christopher De Leon, Dona Bonnevie, Ricky Davao, Cherrie Pie Picache
"Adobo" is the national Filipino dish made of pork, chicken, garlic and olive oil. And that should be enough to tell you that this is another one of those films where a series of stories are linked to the act of eating and getting together -- this time with a group of disparate friends who gather on a regular basis at the home of a friend. It's a pretty good hook to hang a series of stories on, and it works here more than it doesn't. There are perhaps too many stories, but the film has a good heart and clearly cares about its characters, even when the dramatics veer toward dangerously soapy waters.
The film is interesting in its depiction of characters with feet in both worlds -- America and the Philippines -- and as is befitting, the dialogue is a mix of English and Tagalong with the characters slipping in and out of each language, often in mid-sentence. But its real charm lies in its ability to deal with human interaction in a relaxed manner -- achieving one near brilliant sequence that truly connects everyone as they each read letters that might change their lives. It does feel like a number of other films (the filmmakers are obviously indebted to Ang Lee on at least two accounts), but it's also wholly charming in its own right.
-- reviewed by Ken Hanke