The Debut
Want to See
Not Interested
Rate it ½ star
Rate it 1 star
Rate it 1½ stars
Rate it 2 stars
Rate it 2½ stars
Rate it 3 stars
Rate it 3½ stars
Rate it 4 stars
Rate it 4½ stars
Rate it 5 stars
Ben Mercado is a talented high school senior who enrolls in a prestigious art school in order to realize his dreams of becoming an animator. However, his plans come into conflict with those of his immigrant father Roland, a postal worker intent on seeing Ben become a doctor. Their long-simmering feud (for Ben a struggle to fit into American life and reject his Filipino heritage; and for Roland, a quest to give his children a better life than he had) threatens to boil over and ruin the elaborate 18th birthday party of Ben's sister Rose. However, it is at the party where everything starts to… More

Available Online

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 74%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"Director Gene Cajayon, with co-writer John Manal Castro and a charming cast, continually subverts expectations."
‑ Chuck Wilson, L.A. Weekly
"A neat blend of well-drawn major characters and drama, music, dance, romance and humor that generates considerable charm and achieves a heartwarming resolution of its generational conflict."
‑ Lawrence Van Gelder, New York Times
"The Joy Luck Club did the "white people are ignorant" story with less obviousness"
‑ Christopher Null,
"For all its familiarity, The Debut (an unfortunately bland and vague title) is a film from the heart..."
‑ Sean Axmaker, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
"All involved seem keyed into the subtextual subtleties of a story that, while simple on the surface, is exceedingly rich underneath."
‑ David Ehrenstein, New Times
"Mostly the situations, albeit compressed, ring true; the characters are admirably multi-dimensional, and there are welcome doses of humor that compensate for any contrivances."
‑ Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter
"The film has a sweet low-budget quality that sometimes slips into TV-movie schmaltz."
‑ Laura Sinagra, Village Voice
"That it feels so predictable is, ironically, a tribute to the universality of the experience it explores."
‑ Maitland McDonagh, TV Guide's Movie Guide
"A heartfelt, crowd-pleaser of a story."
‑ Steve Rhodes, Internet Reviews
"A smart, engaging demonstration of how the conventions of the coming-of-age comedy-drama can be adapted and given new meaning."
‑ Joe Baltake, Sacramento Bee
"An earnest and predictable little indie."
‑ Lou Lumenick, New York Post
"Celebrates community and family, and does so in such a warm-hearted way that its formulaic nature is easily forgiven."
‑ Moira MacDonald, Seattle Times
"Predictable but heartfelt, and valuable in that it is one of the first Filipino-American productions."
‑ Harvey S. Karten, Compuserve
"The unabashed earnestness of everyone involved allows you to forgive some of the shortcomings."
‑ , E! Online
"Has at its heart a strong cast of actors giving their all to earn a resounding ring of truth with the movie's target audience."
‑ Rob Blackwelder, SPLICEDWire
More reviews for The Debut on Rotten Tomatoes