All About Dad: Clash of Cultures

All About Dad, the last film in this year’s AACC Film Festival, is a comedy-drama about a Vietnamese-American family, the Dos.  While I felt that I could relate to some aspects of the film, the portrayals of Asian Americans was a bit exaggerated. You can see this in the cast of characters:

Dad: the titular character, set in his ways, conservative, and usually invokes his life in Vietnam to justify his strict demands

Mom: the dutiful wife who watches her children grow up, move out, and distance themselves from her. The montage of her standing in front of the door, taking a photo her children before they leave, one by one, is very poignant.

Xuan: the eldest sister, is in medical school but secretly plays the guitar and sings

Linh: engaged to a Vietnamese man who is *gasp* Buddhist. She never works up the nerve to reveal to Dad that he’s not Catholic so Bao reveals it one day, but not before leading a strange letter-like prayer (“Dear God… Sincerely, Bao”)

Dinh: the bullying older brother who has a white girlfriend that he’s afraid to introduce to the family

Ty: forced to major in Biology, Ty quits and pursues filmmaking instead

Bill: the crass next-door neighbor who refuses to trim the tree branches that shed onto Dad’s perfect lawn

The movie is also very scripted: the Vietnamese dialogue (with English subtitles) sounds stilted, almost as if translated from English to Vietnamese when the script was written.

The director, Mark Tran, hails from San Jose, California, the city where I grew up, and the character of Ty is based on his own struggles with breaking into filmmaking as an Asian American.

Ultimately, Tran’s movie was embraced by his family and, based on the laughter of the (modest) audience at the screening, also embraced by Yalies.  Indeed, the charm of the actors and the earnestness of the script, the decidedly Indie style of the film with its establishing shots of bicycles wheeling by on the sidewalk in front of the Do household, and light-hearted humor made me proud to know that this was the work of a Vietnamese-Californian whose film and life teaches us that being Asian in America is indeed an art.

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About Catherine Dinh

My name is Catherine Dinh. I'm a freshman in Pierson. I'm from Fremont, which is in the Bay Area, California. I am considering majoring in English or Psychology. I enjoy reading, writing, watching movies with friends, shopping, graphic design, taking walks, eating, imagining, and learning new things. I'm a member of ViSA and TAS, but I joined the APA blog because I wanted to reach out to more of the Asian American community here at Yale. In short, I hope this blog will be a huge success and am looking forward to seeing it grow.

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