Tere Sanchez (Cherry Pie Picache) is an accountant who is in her early forties, single, and not especially happy about it. Tere is an excellent cook, and often throws dinner parties for her friends, and the arrival of her old friend Lorna (Sol Oca) from Manila is all the reason she needs to invite her friends over for a feast. Mike (Christopher De Leon) is a former political journalist who is now enjoying the fruits of a lucrative career as a newspaper editor, but he wonders if he left his principles behind along the way; he's also feeling unfulfilled in his marriage to Gigi (Susan Valdez-LeGoff). Gerry (Ricky Davao) is an advertising copywriter who is afraid to tell his friends and family that he's gay, though circumstances may well drive him out of the closet. Raul (Paolo Montalban) is a good-looking womaniser who prefers to date Caucasians, and lacks a certain amount of emotional maturity. And Marissa (Dina Bonnevie) is on the surface a well-to-do social butterfly; however, deep inside she's woefully insecure, and is afraid to confront her boyfriend Sam (Randy Becker) about his constant infidelity. Meanwhile, Lorna confesses that while she's married to a wealthy man in Manila, she's terribly unhappy, and is considering staying in America as an illegal alien.Christopher de Leon as Mike
Dina Bonnevie as Marissa
Ricky Davao as Gerry
Cherry Pie Picache as Tere
Paolo Montalban as Raul
Randy Becker as Sam
Keesha Sharp as Debbie
Sandy Andolong as Emma
Gloria Romero as Gerry's Mom
Susan Valdez-LeGoff as Gigi Manalastas
Sol Oca as Lorna
Wayne Maugans as Chris
Martha Millan as Candy Manalastas
Lordi Villanueva as Lydia
Jojo Gonzales as Frank
Luis Pedron as Nonong
Jason Verdadero as Mark
Marcel Simoneau as Sal
Traci Ann Wolfe as Denise
Adobo is a very popular dish in the Philippines and aside from being a hearty viand in the film, it also serves as a symbolism of the clashes in the different struggles of the characters. Acidic vinegar, salty soy sauce, meat, salt, pepper, all are combined in a pot to produce adobo. In the film, despite the conflicts in their characters, in the end, everything ended up well, just like a well cooked adobo.
The film started out with a conversation between Tony Gloria and Vincent Nebrida that there should be films depicting Filipino life in the US. Two months later Vincent finished a screenplay called "Magic Adobo" but only received attention from movie executives in April 1999, after four years since its conception. The entire movie was filmed in chilly October 2000 on location in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and Long Island, including a summertime pool party scene which required the actors, who were shivering between takes, to wear skimpy bathing suits outdoors.
The film has been Rated-R by the MPAA for sexual situations, nudity and strong language.
The film had a very limited release in the United States on January 25, 2002 in 7 theaters for 3 consecutive days. The crew acquired a Mayor's permit to shut down the Queensboro Bridge for the premiere night of the film. The film gross $41,001 on its opening day ranking it on 54th spot and by 3 days of screening the film went on to gross a total of $344,992 in the United States.
The film was released on VHS and on DVD on May 30, 2003 by First Look Pictures. The DVD featured an English and Spanish subtitles.
Most of the reviews have been mixed to negative. In review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film currently holds a rating of 30% or an average score of 4.6 out of 10 based on 23 reviews with the consensus of: "The characters and situations seem borrowed from overwrought sitcoms." In Metacritic which assigns a normalized 0–100 rating to reviews from mainstream critics, calculated an average score of 30 based on 10 reviews, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".
John Anderson of the New York Newsday stated that "American Adobo is a tasty dish of a movie. A tender film with genuine insight into the urban heart. The way it treats the totally non-ethnic aspects of life--love, loneliness, dying, friendship--is what makes this Filipino film so attractive and also so American." Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times stated that, "American Adobo is an intimate, good-humored comedy with lots of heart. Delicious and very funny!" while Andy Klein of San Francisco Weekly stated that, "American Adobo is sophisticated and entertaining. A solid step forward for the emerging Philippine-American cinema." Oliver Carnay of Asian Journal stated that "[the film] is rich, funny and entertaining. A gem reminiscent of Eat Drink Man Woman." The National Board Review was also very positive about the film saying, "A wonderful movie with a lot of heart. Among the year's top foreign language films" while Stephen Holden of The New York Times was less positive about the film stating that, "American Adobo certainly doesn't lack emotional energy, but it has two or three more plots than it can handle and plays like a compressed, strident soap opera."2002 San Diego Asian Film Festival
2002 Los Angeles Cinema Indios Festival
2003 Women's International Film Festival, South Korea
2003 Fukuoka International Film Festival, Japan
Winner best actor for Christopher De Leon
Winner special achievement award
Nominated best actor for Ricky Davao
Nominated best new actor for Paolo Montalban
Winner best supporting actress for Cherry Pie Picache
Nominated best actor for Ricky Davao
Nominated best actress for Cherry Pie Picache
Nominated best actress for Dina Bonnevie
Nominated best director for Laurice Guillen
Winner most promising talent, Paolo Montalban
Nominated best picture