The ethnic wall is steep in the engaging but uneven 'Anita Ho'

Broad humor, intentional stereotypes and hip-hop — it's all part of the earnest but uneven 'Anita Ho'

The engaging if uneven "Anita Ho" is a kind of Asian American "Meet the Parents" — call it "Guess Who's Coming to Dim Sum" — based on "some true events" of the comedy's married costars and cowriters, Steve Myung and Lina So Myung. Although the film purposefully traffics in stereotypes, the Myungs' earnest, been-there approach helps soften the spoofy blows.

Steve Myung, who also directed, proves an endearing lead as Harry Ho, a budding screenwriter about to pop the question to his lovely actress-girlfriend, Anita Lee (So Myung). When the couple travel to Las Vegas to spend Anita's 30th birthday weekend with her old-school parents (George Cheung, Elizabeth Sung), whom Harry is meeting for the first time, the trip turns into a cultural-clashing showdown.

Much of the often broad humor involves Anita's Chinese-born parents' disdain for Harry's Korean heritage. The Lees have already lost this sort of battle once — their older daughter, Lisa (Becky Wu), married the Filipino American Tyson (Kenneth Waymack Jr.) — and they're loath to go through it again. Anita's parents also worry that Harry, whom Mrs. Lee dubs "no job boy," won't be able to provide for their daughter the way a "respectable" Chinese doctor might.

That Anita's childhood beau (Brian Yang), now a successful physician, conveniently resurfaces not only fuels the Lees' retrograde fire but also adds to Harry's ongoing humiliation.

It all culminates at an amusingly fraught family birthday bash that nicely paves the way for the film's warmly equitable conclusion.

On the downside, an array of comic flashbacks and fantasies feel out of place as does a midway romantic montage. However, a rap contest starring Anita's covertly hip-hop-loving brother (James To) effectively spotlights another ethnic divide.

"Anita Ho."

No MPAA rating.

Running time: 1 hour, 23 minutes. In English and Mandarin with subtitles.

Playing: Laemmle's Playhouse 7, Pasadena. Also on VOD.

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