Trying to be a sensitive, breakthrough film about transplanted Filipinos in the style of Eat Drink Man Woman, American Adobo instead presents a full complement of pan-cultural stereotypes. There are Tere (Cherry Pie Picache), a plain woman in her 40s whose housekeeping skills are impeccable but who has yet to find love; Marissa (Dina Bonnevie), a shallow socialite whose painful relationship with her boyfriend manifests itself in her catty comments about others; Gerry (Ricky Davao), a closeted gay man whose mother wants grandchildren and whose photographer lover is dying of AIDS; Raul (Paolo Montalban), a good-looking womanizer who questions his unfeeling actions only after an HIV scare; and Mike (Christopher De Leon), a weary editor of a political newspaper whose wife does nothing but spend her inheritance and whose Americanized children apparently hate their Filipino roots. These friends gather for dinner on special occasions (adobo is the Philippines’ national dish) for badly written conversations about what’s going on in their lives and in their heads; in between, we get short, laughable scenes with the characters on their own turf, delivering dialogue that conveniently wraps up whatever their particular problems may be. (“To think all my friends said, ‘Filipino men are gentlemen!’” says a slutty American woman to Raul as he high-tails it.) And the plot contrivances—oh, they are many, and they are useless, throwing the characters into situations that betray nothing about what it means to be a Filipino in America: a revealing letter delivered to the wrong person, a statue thrown out a window only to hit a fellow Catholic in the head (perhaps Filipino men are gentlemen because Filipino women apparently like to hurl things), and an apartment fire that leads a certain someone to the love of her life. The scenes of each feast are lovely to look at, however, and though scripter Vincent R. Nebrida puts too many grating English words in their mouths, the actors are to be commended for making immigrants’ tendency to switch between English and their native language sound fluid and natural. But if all you’re after is a good-looking meal and a few foreign phrases, skip American Adobo and make reservations. —Tricia Olszewski