Letty Cottin Pogrebin has wisely observed: "We need old friends to help us grow old and new friends to help us stay young." In this romantic comedy directed by Laurice Guillen, a group of Filipino-American friends regularly gather to savor their native cuisine and to check in with each other. Love is always in season but it is hard to find just the right one for their palates.
Tere (Cherry Pie Picache) is an observant Catholic accountant who lives alone and specializes in cooking adobo, the national dish of the Philippines, a meat or vegetable marinated in vinegar, soy sauce, and garlic. Her best friends include Mike (Christopher De Leon), an editor who is unhappily married to a rich and self-centered woman; Marissa (Dina Bonnevie), a successful career woman whose boyfriend Sam (Randy Becker) is notoriously unfaithful to her; Raul (Paolo Montalban), a womanizer; and Gerry (Ricky Davao), a gay ad man who hasn't come out of the closet even though his boyfriend is dying of AIDS.
Over the course of a year, these New Yorkers have their lives marinated in surprises, disappointments, betrayals, and loss. Tere's excruciating loneliness gets the best of her until the man that was meant for her arrives in a life-saving moment. Gerry tells his mother about his sexual orientation, and Raul squares off with AIDS when he learns that he may be infected with the virus. Mike decides to leave his wife and family, returning to the Philippines.
It is interesting that so many recent films dealing with the challenges facing ethnic individuals in their new homeland center around table fellowship (Tortilla Soup, What's Cooking?). Although American Adobo is very melodramatic and predictable, it does contain enough magic moments where the sturdiness of friendship is celebrated as the very salt of life that reliably gives flavor and meaning to our experiences.