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Movie Review

"Ay yi yi," Yahoo! Movies yelps, Chasing Papi is "hot and spicy." Comingsoon.net calls the soapy flick "a Latina version of Weekend at Bernies." The Sacramento News & Review brands it a "stale contrivance, low on conviction and high on clunky dialogue." After seeing it with my own eyes, all I can add is a weary, prolonged sigh. Chasing Papi is all of those things ... and quite a bit more. The hunky Tomas Fuentes (called "Papi Chulo" by his adoring onscreen girlfriends, a Spanish term of endearment meaning "pretty daddy") is so full of unadulterated manliness that every female he meets falls panting at his feet. Even a nun at the airport nearly swoons in his pheromone-infused wake. It's little wonder that Papi is so puffed up by his own vanity that he's not satisfied with the attentions of a single female. He's got three fiancées stashed in various parts of the country. Each is a beautiful flower, he says, a unique blossom longing for his nurturing touch. Lorena is a bookish lawyer living in Chicago. Patricia is a snobbish, spoiled rich kid in New York. And Cici is a crass and bombastic cocktail waitress in Miami. Early in the film, the three women each make their way across the country to Papi's L.A. pad, where they secretly prepare themselves for a night of wild passion in his oh-so-strong arms. After sneaking into his home, each lady (still oblivious of the others, but moving simultaneously) sashays to his bedroom, steps through one of its doors (there are three) and throws open her fashionable overcoat. The coats are an important detail since underneath them the girls are wearing only lingerie, gifts from Papi. Since this is a screwball comedy, Papi is nowhere to be seen. He's not even home. So the three women shriek, gasp and glare, sizing each other up while letting the realization that they're being triple-timed sink into their finely coifed, rather dense noggins. Do they then ditch their dastardly dandy? No. The 60 minutes remaining in this 90-minute flick are devoted to an extended catfight in which all three vie for Papi's fickle affections. It's akin to watching children divide into teams for a game of dodgeball: "Pick me!" "Pick me!" "Pick me!"

positive elements: If these girls were Charlie's Angels, I could at least applaud them for watching each other's backs. But they're not. The only reason they stick together throughout the film is so that each can keep the others from gaining an unfair time advantage with Papi. The closest thing to positive content presented is a last-second (half-hearted) realization that they don't need a man to make them whole.

spiritual content: All three females are prompted to travel to California to seal their destiny with Papi when they see (real-life) astrologer and horoscope craftsman Walter Mercado dishing up advice on TV. A screaming, evil "Latin spirit" is superimposed over Cici's face to show the lengths to which she would go to secure Papi's love.

nudity and sexual content: Starting with the incident in which the three women whip open their coats to dazzle Papi with their "assets," lots of leg and cleavage fill the screen. Lorena's open coat reveals a bra and panties, Cici's a teddy and Patricia's a mid-thigh chemise. There's no other way to interpret the implications of this "lingerie scene" as anything short of sexual. Women simply don't bounce into a man's bedroom wearing trench coats and little else for any purpose other than sex. Elsewhere, Cici typically bares the most skin, flaunting herself in nearly every scene. When the girls try to blend in as dancers at a Latin music festival, Cici rips the other women's clothing to make them appear sexier (Lorena's skirt is shortened and her shirt opened; Patricia's pants are ripped up to her thigh and the sides of her blouse are torn half-way up to her arms). While Papi is unconscious, all three women sleep on the bed with him. There is also a fair amount of sensual dancing (solo and couple). Papi grabs Cici's bottom. He kisses Cici and Lorena. Papi's doctor makes a sexual joke about Papi's blood pressure. There are several quips about the size of women's breasts and ways they can be augmented. Cici grabs her own chest on more than one occasion, pushing it up to show it off. Subtle verbal and visual innuendoes hint at homosexual attraction and a bondage fetish.

violent content: Papi's hands and feet are tied to prevent him from escaping. Patricia knocks a man to the ground with a lamp. Cici hits Papi. All three ladies slap him. FBI agents draw their guns. A guy collapses when he's hit with a duffel bag. Cici threatens another girl at a bar ("A fist or a foot?" she says, asking the woman which form of attack she would prefer). A beauty pageant contestant is deliberately tripped.

crude or profane language: Cici abuses Jesus' name. She, and others habitually utter the truncated expression "omigod." Infrequent mild profanities ("h---," "d--n," "a--") are included.

drug and alcohol content: The three ladies order booze in their hotel room (everyone but Patricia gets smashed). Papi downs large quantities of liquor and prescription tranquilizers, a potentially lethal combination that renders him unconscious for a day or two. A prominently placed poster hawks Miller beer.

other negative elements: Patricia steals a motorcycle when the girls' car breaks down.

conclusion: The moral of the story? If he's cute enough, it doesn't matter how much of a cad he is. It's simply not very funny watching three beautiful women fight over a scrap that fell off the XY table. Would that they had teamed up to punish Papi for his lascivious behavior. Would that they had simply walked away with tears in their eyes. Instead, they clamor for more. Hardly the message young girls (or guys) need to hear and internalize. Fool me once; shame on you. Fool me twice; shame on me.

Now for the not-so-small matter of CCM artist Jaci Velasquez making her big-screen debut in this movie. "How can Jaci Velasquez represent the Contemporary Christian Music industry in the skimpy outfits she wears in her new movie Chasing Papi?" asks Whittier, Calif., teen and loyal Jaci fan Alena Takii. "I like her music and can understand that she wants to break into the mainstream industry to reach out to the rest of the world, but is she really giving herself a good name by choosing to be in a movie that compromises what she stands for as a Christian?" It seems to me that Alena has answered her own question. Don't let Jaci's starring role mislead your family. Chase teens and tweens away from Papi.


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