It’s probably no surprise to hear me say that “Chasing Papi” is light fluff. It’s harmless, thankfully quick (at 75 minutes of running time sans closing credits), and nearly all the faces that show up onscreen are, if I may be so shallow for a moment, quite pleasing on the eyes. The men gets Roselyn Sanchez, Sofia Vergara, and Jaci Velasquez as the three wronged women, while the ladies get studly Eduardo Verastegui in various stages of undress. I’m told that all four are known commodities in the Spanish market, even if the only face I recognized belonged to Sanchez. The film also boasts a number of cameos by well-known names, including Paul Rodriguez doing an over-the-top gay pageant organizer and Maria Conchita Alonso as Velasquez’s blonde-haired WASP-wannabe mom. Comedian D.L. Hughley also shows up as a gun-wielding criminal.
The Papi of the title is Verastegui, an ad exec who isn’t a chauvinist pig more than he is a man who just loves women too much. The three women he’s seeing simultaneously, but who live in 3 different cities, are Sanchez as uptight attorney Lorena, Vergara as fiery cocktail waitress Cici, and Velasquez as spoiled rich girl Patricia. As it often happens in these type of movies, coincidence brings all 3 women to Papi’s house in Los Angeles, where they meet, squabble, and then after Papi takes trank pills that puts him under, has to hull Papi around the city while various parties try to get a hold of a bag full of money. Or something along that line.
Obviously being a film fueled by silly coincidence and lacking the ambition to be anything more than a silly sitcom stretched into a full-length (if just barely) movie, “Chasing Papi” isn’t really concern with that bag full of money angle. The screenplay is flighty and superficial, as are the 3 women themselves. Of course Lorena learns to cut loose and be sexy, while Cici learns to trust in herself (I think), while Patricia learns to be, well, less spoiled. Or something. The point is, it’s useless to read too much into “Papi’s” storylines, since what little characterization that shows up isn’t worth mentioning. The film finally resolves itself in one of those convenient free-for-alls at an outdoor festival; the whole thing is most notable for a cameo by former rocker Sheila E.
Of note is Roselyn Sanchez, the only name I recognized. Sanchez (“Basic”) is an emerging star thanks to her smothering good looks and is easily the movie’s most famous face to non-Latino audiences. The film’s most successful endeavor is that it managed to make her look mousy and ordinary for the first 30 minutes. (And believe me, Ms. Sanchez is far from mousy and ordinary looking.) I am less familiar with Sanchez’s three co-stars, although Velasquez gets special attention for being a fellow Houstonian. She’s also a popular recording artist, I’m told. The rest of the cast blurs by in a sea of faces, including lead Verastegui, who is unconscious for some of the first half, and nearly all of the second half.
Not being a big fan of Latino music, I’m not really qualified to judge the soundtrack, although I did find it somewhat pleasing to the ear. And scenes where hot Latin women shake their God given talents to groovy Salsa is always welcomed in my book. Ahem.
In a bit of trivia, I saw Sofia Vergara on the Conan O’Brien talk show earlier on the same day I sat down to watch this movie. The episode where Vergara appeared to promote “Papi” was a repeat, but still it prompted me to slip in the copy of “Papi” that I had sitting around. I bring this up only because I never thought actors going on TV shows to advertise their movies actually worked. I guess I was wrong.
Linda Mendoza (director)
CAST: Roselyn Sanchez …. Lorena
SofÃa Vergara …. Cici
Jaci Velasquez …. Patricia
Eduardo Verastegui …. Papi
Lisa Vidal …. Carmen