Tio Papi: Film Review

Tio Papi Film Still - H 2013

Tio Papi Film Still - H 2013

Appealing performances compensate for the predictable storyline of this family-oriented film targeted to Hispanics.

A commitment-phobic bachelor is suddenly forced to care for his late sister's six children in Fro Rojas' comedy/drama.

A middle-aged bachelor is reluctantly forced to accept responsibility for his late sister’s six children in Fro Rojas’ family-oriented comedy/drama that pulls at the heartstrings in all too predictable fashion. Similar in its themes to the recent unexpected Spanish language hit Instructions Not Included, the Hispanic-targeted Tio Papi, which was nominated for five 2013 Imagen Awards, is unlikely to achieve similarly successful commercial results.

Its title translated to “Uncle Daddy,” the English language feature is set in NYC’s Washington Heights, where the commitment-phobic “Ray Ray” Dominguez (Joey Dedio, who also scripted and co-produced) mainly dreams of someday moving to Miami. His plans are rudely interrupted when his sister and brother-in-law are suddenly killed in an automobile accident. The sole surviving relative of their six children, aged six to sixteen, his first impulse is to see them sent off to a foster home. But he’s dismayed to discover that the close-knit siblings will inevitably be separated.

Will Ray-Ray learn to embrace his new role as surrogate father to his newfound brood? Will he finally make a commitment to his long-suffering girlfriend (Elizabeth Rodriguez) who’s about to give up on him? These are the not-so-burning issues handled in the proceedings, which culminate in a courtroom scene that makes the one in Miracle on 34th Street seem cynical by comparison.

Although its formulaic storyline--which includes a less than credible subplot involving Ray having to decide whether to turn in a large sum of money he’s found--holds no surprises, the film nonetheless exerts a certain charm. This is largely due to Dedio’s unforced, appealing performance in the title role; the naturalistic turns by the half-dozen young supporting players; and the appearances by such reliable pros as Kelly McGillis as a stern social worker and Frankie Faison as Ray’s super who indulges his endlessly late rent payments.

Opens Sept. 6 (JMC Independent Productions/Active Fox Productions)

Cast: Joey Dedio, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Kelly McGillis, Frankie Faison, Gabriella Fanuele, David Castro, Fatima Ptacek, Sebastian Martinez, Nicolette Pierini, Dax Roy

Director: Fro Rojas

Screenwriters: Joey Dedio, Brian Herskovitz

Producers: Janet Carrus, Joey Dedio, Debbie Margolis-Horowitz, Brian Herskowitz

Executive producers: Mario L. Baeza, Richard Pleban

Director of photography: Sherman Johnson

Editors: Fro Rojas, Goodpenny

Production designer: Lucio Seixas

Costume designer: Lucia Lettini

Composer: Josh Klein

Rated PG, 90 min.