Tio Papi

September 6, 2013 by  
Filed under Ashley, Reviews

Starring: Joey Diedo, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Kelly McGillis
Directed by: Fro Rojas (debut)
Written by: Joey Diedo (“Downtown: A Street Tale”) and Brian Herskowitz (TV’s “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys”)

Director Fro Rojas’s family dramedy “Tio Papi” – about a middle-aged Puerto Rican who is suddenly forced to care for his six nieces and nephews when their parents are killed in a car accident – is a disaster from start to finish. There’s no nice way of laying it down.

Enjoying his time as bachelor, Uncle Ray Ray (Joey Diedo, also credited as a co-writer) is living the good life. Liked by everyone but his neighbor/ex-girlfriend Cheeky (Elizabeth Rodriguez), he always manages to smooth his way out of bad situations (like always being late on his rent). When his sister’s kids get left at his front door one morning by rigid social worker Elizabeth Warden (Kelly McGillis), Ray Ray is forced to have to make some difficult decisions.

After much struggle, Uncle Ray Ray seeks assistance from Cheeky in figuring out how to care for the six kids. He soon realizes he would rather keep them together as a family instead of having the state find separate homes for each of them, but not before the youngest ones are taken away and placed in foster care.

It’s evident screenwriters Joey Dedio and Brian Herskowitz tried to take a stab at writing a heartfelt dramedy centering around the transformation of Uncle Ray Ray from a bachelor into a responsible parent, but to their demise, every storyline was rushed and underdeveloped, leaving zero chance for laughter and tears and for the audience to get any sense of growth from his character. Performances from the cast were certainly nothing to rave about as well. With choppy dialogue and phony acting, you’ll be left wondering how much longer till the end.

The third act is a culmination of cliche and unrealistic events that push everything over the edge. Trying to get his kids back, Uncle Ray Ray finds himself unable to pay his lawyer, but with the flick of a wand, it seems, he comes across a random briefcase filled with money which eventually lands him a front page story in the newspaper when he decides to be the good Samaritan and turn it in. By the time the final scene rolls around, you are drained with disbelief in how bad this is. The only thought you can fathom is, “Why in the heck is Uncle Ray Ray’s landlord in every scene?!”

Elizabeth Rodriguez – Miami Vice

July 26, 2006 by  
Filed under Chaléwood, Interviews

New York City-born actress Elizabeth Rodriguez never turned the channel to “Miami Vice” in the ’80s. The show, which first aired in 1984 and starred Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas as two vice squad detectives in the Miami Police Department, was not something she found as entertaining television.

“I didn’t watch it at all,” Rodriguez told me during a phone interview. “I knew about it and I knew it was a big thing. People started wearing loafers without socks. I remember when it was affecting New York’s style and culture, but I never watched it.”

Although not a fan of the popular TV series, Rodriguez now finds herself starring in the film version of the show. The movie, which opens on July 28, is directed by Michael Mann (“Heat”) and stars Colin Farrell (“The New World”) and Academy Award winner Jamie Foxx (“Ray”).

Rodriguez portrays Miami Det. Gina Calabrese, one of two female officers who goes undercover with Det. James ‘Sonny’ Crockett (Farrell) and Det. Ricardo Tubbs (Foxx) to bring down an underworld of drug traffickers.

“In the series Gina was the one having a relationship with Crockett, but not in the film,” Rodriguez said. “My character is more of the go-to girl. I’m the support system. I specialized in operations. My character is ex-SWAT. I’m just sort of hands-on and all about my work and my people.”

Because she had never seen the original TV series before, Rodriguez, who’s film credits include 1995’s “Dead Presidents” and 2001’s “Blow,” decided she needed to take a crash course in “Miami Vice” 101. Purchasing the “Miami Vice” Season One DVD, Rodriguez said she watched over 20 hours of the show and also took the time to watch and re-watch every film Michael Mann directed, including “The Insider,” “Ali” and “Collateral.”

“I did a whole review of the Michael Mann films I hadn’t seen,” Rodriguez said. “And the films I had seen, I watched them again, but through a different eye.”

Watching “Miami Vice,” Rodriguez said, helped her a lot in seeing what Miami was like in the ’80s. It was her only way to get back to that particular city in that particular era.

“I had gone to Miami a couple of times but only in the 90s, so it had already started changing,” Rodriguez said. “I also dated a guy that was Cuban and was raised in Miami but that didn’t help too much. It was hard to put yourself back in the 80s.”

Although she thought Crockett’s pet crocodile Elvis was “corny” on the TV show, Rodriguez said she did understand why so many people tuned in 20 years ago.

“There was a Latin quality to it,” she said. “[The City of Miami] was its own sort of character in the show. The style is Michael Mann’s style – dark. You get to see the super high end of Miami down on South Beach and then you go into the real gritty and nastiness of life. Then you see how it’s all connected.”