Disoriented

This 1997 first feature by Francisco Aliwalas, about a Filipino teenager chasing his own version of the American dream, is engaging, warmhearted, and fitfully funny, but it crams too many ideas into a straightforward narrative. Aliwalas, himself a first-generation immigrant, plays the lead as a winsome Candide distracted from his premed studies; the other characters are a parade of sitcom stereotypes--the overbearing mother, the jock who comes out of the closet, the Japanese girl insecure with her Asian features--exploited for the sake of one-liners and visual gags that poke fun at family values and confused identity. The easy situations and sophomoric humor subvert Aliwalas?s earnestness. There are poignant moments, to be sure (most of them involving Potri Ranka Manis as a put-upon woman who loves her sons just a bit too much), but the film ties up its loose ends too neatly and quickly.

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