Run time: 88 mins
In Theaters: Wednesday 13th August 2003
Box Office USA: $1.5M
Distributed by: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Production compaines: UNIT Parktech
Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 74%
Fresh: 17 Rotten: 6
IMDB: 6.7 / 10
Director: Gene Cajayon
Producer: Lisa Onodera
Unfortunately, Gene Cajayon's English-language flick adds little to the coming of age genre, borrowing liberally from virtually every other film (Stand By Me, Dead Poets Society, Can't Hardly Wait) to come before him. The fact that his characters are from the Phillipines doesn't make the movie unique enough to really thrill you. And unfortunately, The Debut's jokes are almost unilaterally flat -- relying on insidery Filipino gags or ages-old humor that might have worked a decade ago. Or two. Even the DVD's gag reel didn't make me break a smile.
Cajayon succeeds in drawing good performances from his novice actors, something most indie directors struggle to do and fail. He imbues his film with lots of Filipino soul, but unless you grade The Debut on its merits as a history lesson it's difficult to love. Eat Drink Man Woman and The Joy Luck Club did the "white people are ignorant" story with less obviousness and attached to better stories.
Oh, and sorry to say it, but no matter how you sex it up, you just can't make Filipino food look good on screen.