Chasing Papi (2003) / Comedy-Romance
MPAA Rated: PG for mild sensuality and language
Running time: 80 min.
Cast: Roselyn Sanchez, Sofia Vergara, Jaci Velasquez, Eduardo Verastegui, Freddy Rodriguez, D.L. Hughley, Maria Conchita Alonso, Paul Rodriguez, Carlos Ponce (cameo), Walter Mercado (cameo), Sheila E. (cameo)
Director: Linda Mendoza
Screenplay: Laura Angelica Simon, Steven Antin, Alison Balian, Elizabeth Sarnoff
Fresh from the experience of having seen Two Ninas, which is about a man dating two great women and not able to choose between them, now comes Chasing Papi, which is about a man dating three great women and not able to choose between them. Of course, this premise has been done many times before in films, and countless sit-coms, which Papi is content to play out as for the 80-minute duration.
The three women in question are (1) an intelligent Chicago lawyer named Lorena (Roselyn Sanchez, Basic), (2) a spicy Miami cocktail waitress names Cici (Sofia Vergara, Soul Plane), and (3) an upper-class New York debutante named Patricia (Jaci Velasquez). What ties them all together is they are all girlfriends to Tomas (Verastegui, Meet Me in Miami), a Los Angeles business exec, and none of them know it, until one day all three show up to Tomas's place and find out they aren't alone in vying for his attention. The three immediately want a choice to be made and try desperately to be Tomas's choice, but decide that it's better to get revenge on the man who has been an obvious cheat. Through a series of other complications, Lorena is mistakenly entered into a beauty contest, Patricia finds her money flow has been cut-off by her mother, and all three have unknowingly been carrying a bag full of money that a couple of two-bit hoods have been tailing them to snatch, along with a sexy, hard-ass Federal agent.
As you can see from the amount of screenwriters and the main premise, there's quite a lot of story and characters crammed into these measly 80 minutes. It sure doesn't feel like it, as each story-point gets about as little attention as the screenplay would require, almost giving the opposite effect of having no plot at all. When the story twist involving the bag of money occurs, it feels more like an afterthought, or just an attempt to keep the plot moving along when they've already run out of ideas for the original dilemma regarding Tomas. More screen time is given to fluff scenes like the beauty pageant and a scenario which requires the three lovely ladies to dance sexy while wearing as little as possible.
Chasing Papi is well-cast, and directed in a lively and colorful fashion by Linda Mendoza, and it should come as no surprise that she has made the jump straight from television comedies to motion pictures with this one. With such good looking performers, beautiful locales, energetic music, and animation, this is candy for the eyes and ears, crafted to lull you into a sense of enjoyment even if the script is a complete dud. It kind of works in a fashion, much like the equally skimpy Charlie's Angels, only without the constant explosions and gunplay. Instead, there's Roselyn's mid-riff, Sofia's cleavage, and Eduardo's shirtless body on display to hold your rapt attention, so even if the story is weak, those seeking cheesecake shots of their favorite objects of desire will be entertained on another level.
©2003 Vince Leo