April 2003
Chasing Papi

Reviewed by Godfrey Powell

Chasing Papi
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Directed by: Linda Mendoza
Produced by: Forest Whitaker
Screenplay: Laura Angelica Simon, Steven Antin, Alison Balian, & Elizabeth Sarnoff
Starring: Roselyn Sanchez, Eduardo Verastegui, Sofia Vergara, Jaci Velasquez, Lisa Vidal, Freddy Rodriguez, Maria Conchita Alonso, & D.L Hughley
Running time: 100 minutes

Jaci Velasquez, Roselyn Sanchez, Sheila E. and Sofia Vergara in 20th Century Fox's Chasing Papi - 2003

Lisa Vidal and Eduardo Verastegui in 20th Century Fox's Chasing Papi - 2003

Freddy Rodriguez and D.L. Hughley in 20th Century Fox's Chasing Papi - 2003

Jaci Velasquez, Sofia Vergara and Roselyn Sanchez in 20th Century Fox's Chasing Papi - 2003

Sofia Vergara, Roselyn Sanchez and Jaci Velasquez in 20th Century Fox's Chasing Papi - 2003   


A relationship comedy from 20th Century Fox about one man in love with three women is not entirely new territory. What is unusual is that the man and ALL three women in the film are Latino as are 98% of the cast and crew. “Chasing Papi” is (recognized as the first movie of its kind) an English speaking, studio produced mainstream Latino film. This movie targets what is now the largest ethnic minority in the U.S. (Latino) as well seeking to gain cross-over success in the model of such African-American films like Barbershop.

Interestingly enough Forest Whitaker (Ghost Dog, Phone Booth) is the guiding force behind the film in his role as producer. Forest Whitaker is widely credited with helping induce studios to churn out movies targeting an African-American audience with his directorial of the smash hit “Waiting to Exhale” in 1995. Ever since this huge hit, studios annually churn out 10-12 black films per year.

Chasing Papi attempts to recreate Waiting to Exhale’s success by revolving around an incredibly hunky young advertising executive, Papi (Eduardo Verastegui) and his stresses dealing with three equally hot women in three cities. There’s Miamian Cici (Sofia Vergara) a flamboyant pink wearing salsa dancing cocktail waitress. New Yorker Patricia (Jaci Velasquez), the spoiled, puffy dress wearing rich girl daughter of an ambassador; and my personal favorite, Chicagoan Lorena (Roselyn Sanchez), an uptight, suit and tie-wearing, poetry loving lawyer. After the film’s enjoyable exploratory stage, it shifts into high speed slapstick as each girl receives their astrological reading from famed (in Latino communities) astrologer Walter Mercado. As their readings dictate to them, they separately arrive in Los Angeles at Eduardo’s home to surprise their wonderful boyfriend. There, in a predictable but quite sexy scene, each girl finds out about each other. This leads to the girls confronting Papi who promptly passes out from multiple cocktails of tequila and stress relieving tranquilizers. From here the movie bounces from a hilarious Miss Puerto Rico contest, a vague stolen drug lord’s car and an exhausting concert chase.

While not perfect, I thoroughly enjoyed the film mainly because of the uniqueness of such a film. The film had a hammering Latino flavor from the bouncy soundtrack to cultural standpoints like Walter Mercado. All of this hammering was done without losing its crossover appeal. In addition, I must admit I thoroughly enjoyed the great eye candy of Cici, Patricia y Lorena. Their performances exactingly matched the growth of their characters. Since this is the first leading opportunity for all of them, they did an admirable job. Eduardo Verastugei betrays his Mexican soap opera roots in a respectful job portraying Papi, a man who is not a cad but rather one who falls helplessly in love with the varying personalities of each of his women. My grade: B-.