MOVIE REVIEW: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (Bill Condon, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Beauty and the Beast:

1. Similar to A Second Chance, this live action remake of the classic Disney movie was completely harmless and unnecessary. Lower your pitchforks (or eyebrows), please. Inasmuch as I’m sure you would want to launch into your own glorious rendition of Kill the Beast right about now, hear me out first.

The movie was satisfactory. The cast was mostly fine. The new songs were generally okay (although a tad forgettable). Bring your kids (or your inner kid at heart) and wallow in the amazing feeling of nostalgia.

Just never forget that you’re watching a film directed by the same person that most recently gave us The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Parts 1 and 2. (Fade to black.)

2. I never expected a shot-by-shot remake of the cartoon, but I also didn’t see the need for forty additional minutes of filler to explain the stories behind the Prince’s bad behaviour, Belle’s dead mother, and the Enchantress’ double life in the village, among others. You could immediately feel the difference as soon as this one started with the stained glass sequence in the original losing its storybook effect by having the Prince in full Black Swan make-up partying like Lindsay Lohan on a Friday night.

Even with all the back stories, it still wasn’t able to justify why the poor servants had to be included in the curse (and no Mrs. Potts, indirect negligence of an abused child was not reason enough for such a cruel punishment). I did like the explanation on why nobody really bothered checking on the castle post-curse and that was achieved through one line of narration.

3. If anything, this version posed even more questions:

• Given these recent historical revisionisms regarding inventors (read up on Bell vs Meucci haller!), should we assume that Belle actually created the first washing machine? Also, whatever happened to those bedsheets that she tied up for her planned escape?

• Who was that toothless piano (played by Stanley Tucci)? Was he part of the Broadway production (I swear I couldn’t remember that character in the cartoon)? Also, why wasn’t Mrs. Potts talking out of her spout? She ended up looking more inanimate here.

• If her mother really loved roses, then why was she even named Belle? Why not Rose or Rosita or Rosa? (So happy my mom was never fond of champaka.)

• Speaking of, when she brought back that rose heirloom and gave it to Maurice, wouldn’t that make him patient zero for another bubonic plague/outbreak?

4. Sorry bashers, but Emma Watson actually had a decent singing voice (regardless of Auto-Tune). My concern though was that she still acted very much like Hermione in a grand Hogwarts production of Beauty and the Beast. I even had lots of fun imitating her very British accent in provincial France (“Puh-paww!!”, “That’s ab-suhd!”).

The bigger surprise here was Luke Evans, a perfect casting choice for Gaston (no one even falls like Gaston!). I loved every moment he had with LeFou (played by Josh Gad, who should be in every Disney movie moving forward).

5. Poll question of the day: Did you like Dan Stevens as the Beast? Or more accurately, was he the Prince that you were expecting? Some people (cough, cough) wanted to kill me for laughing during the big reveal post-Beast transformation. My reaction was more of “Ehh” and I wanted it to be more of “Huwow!”. It certainly was no Devon Sawa moment in Casper.

I could understand Dan’s charms in a Benedict Cumberbatch way, but I really expected someone conventionally great-looking. Given the extensive use of motion capture in his Beast performance, he could have been replaced by Andy Serkis (yup, Gollum) and they could have gotten someone physically resembling Prince Charming.

6. When Belle ran up the hill and the camera started swirling around her, did the Sound of Music theme play in your head as well?

7. One of my favorite lines in the movie was from Plumette: “I grew three more feathers and I just plucked yesterday.” Story of my life right there.

8. Where was the openly gay character in the movie? A couple of people asked me if this was appropriate for kids, especially since the issue had been blown out of proportion. Fear not parents, there was no gay kissing or gay sex scene (this was still a Disney film after all).

Actually, there wasn’t even any mention of a character being out and proud. If anything, this should open up a whole new discussion on how Disney’s milking the gay uproar (vis a vis them proudly proclaiming the inclusion of a gay character) when there was none to begin with.

Everything pertaining to homosexuality was actually played for laughs (even that controversial blink-and-you’ll-miss-it dance). That was even more disappointing than the states and countries that banned the movie. Where was the hyped progressivism, Disney?

9. Be Our Guest was my favorite sequence in the original and it felt a bit messy here (even more distracting in 3D/4DX with the constant seat movements and excessive flashing lights). The iconic dance scene was fine (hearing the wonderful theme did give me serious goosebumps) and I kinda liked the yellow dress even if it resembled the Halloween version being sold in Toy Kingdom. But why did they have to remove the romantic dinner? I also missed the swoon-worthy scenes of her blatantly teaching him how to dance and putting her head on his hairy chest. All we got here were those excessive shots of low-hanging chandeliers. Hay.

10. This movie still begged that age-old question though: Is it superficial if a woman falls for a man with a huge, uhm, library?

Rating: ★★★☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: HOW TO BE YOURS (Dan Villegas, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on How To Be Yours:

1. In one crucial scene, babes Anj (Bea Alonzo) and Niño (Gerald Anderson) alternately slept and woke up in one bed, while barely seeing or interacting with each other. Both were too tired from their respective jobs and their conflicting schedules further worsened the situation (did that sound familiar, BPO peeps?). It was a painfully realistic depiction of a relationship that probably wasn’t meant to last. But was it really?

My biggest problem with this movie was that it wanted us to believe that career and love (and to some extent happiness) were mutually exclusive. It would always be between Choice A (love makes the world go round) or Choice B (werk, werk, werk, werk, werk, werk). Weirdly enough, one character pointed out that there was actually a middle ground (Choice C), although it would be hard work for both parties. In that world, this A Second Chance-lite movie wouldn’t even exist.

2. Since there were several coffee references here, I just had to mention that I loved the sight of Bea and Gerald’s clasped hands because their skin tones perfectly complemented each other, very much like coffee and cream. Or should that be Kopiko LA Coffee and Cream?

3. I found it funny that Niño took a small bite on the crust of the sandwich that Anj prepared and immediately declared it masarap. I could only imagine his foodgasm if he ate at Angel’s Burger (“Sa unang kagat, tinapay lahat!”).

Also, why would anyone ask a significant other to gauge cooking skills? No sane guy would ever criticize his girlfriend’s salpicao dish even if it tasted like bistek. (This joke was done much better in Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo where Ryan Agoncillo praised the afritada of wife Judy Ann Santos that prompted her to scream: “Pochero ‘to! Pochero ang paborito mong ulam!”.)

4. Definitely not complaining that Janus del Prado was basically playing the same BFF character in every Star Cinema rom-com. Who else could pull off a lame and awkward pick-up line like, “Joan? Joanna be mine?”.

5. More than the constant use of po (currently trademarked by Popstar Royalty Sarah Geronimo), I was really annoyed by the repetitive mentions of the word babe (douchebag alert: I called all of my significant others that to avoid saying the wrong pet name). Maybe Star Cinema should have a Babe Time contest and reward the person that would be able to give the exact word count.

6. The two lines that made me laugh out loud:

• “Love is like a rosary. Lagi ko dinadasalan.” (A welcome change from the full of mysteries joke.)

• “Hoy, mga walanghiya! Sa social media pa kayo naglandian!” (I found it weird though that the only tweets showing up were theirs. They weren’t following anyone else?)

The line that made me groan out loud:

• “I gave you everything, but you left me with nothing.” (Everything except understanding?)

Speaking of groan-worthy, I did not like the fake-out announcement at all. At all.

7. Those legs in the supermarket scene. Wow! (Also, I loved that Niño’s clothes were mostly pink. No wonder he was so tough with Anj.)

8. Okay, tell me if I missed anything but didn’t Niño say that he lived in Makati while Anj stayed in an apartment in UP Village? How was he able to show up at the gate as soon as she mentioned “ang magdadala ng kape, mamahalin ko forever”?

9. I could almost guarantee that Chef Pocholo’s (Bernard Palanca) recent torrents were episodes of MasterChef and Hell’s Kitchen.

10. Why wasn’t the other friend talking? And did he have a crush on Anj (or possibly Niño)?

11. Please let this be the last artsy sex scene set to the music of a Star Records artist. Or maybe something other than a kiss-the-back-of-the-shoulders shot?

(Was I the only one praying that they never hit any of the expensive-looking chandeliers? Was anyone wondering if that’s where Ate Vi’s Everything About Her character got hers? Were you somewhat playing Sia’s Chandelier in your head as soon as they entered the office? We need to talk.)

12. My takeaway from this movie was that it was okay to be jobless and nganga dahil mabubusog naman kayo ng pag-ibig. Aww, how sweet!

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: JUST THE 3 OF US (Cathy Garcia-Molina, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Just The 3 Of Us:

1. The movie reminded me so much of this late 90’s rom-com with Matthew Perry as a happy-go-lucky bachelor who had a one night stand with a sultry Salma Hayek in Vegas. She ended up pregnant, they got married, and then discovered each other’s personalities while fixing family and work issues. It was called Fools Rush In and I would have asked you to rent it in a local Video City, but I think all of their stores closed ages ago.

2. In this version though, the girl CJ (Jennylyn Mercado) would rather stalk the potential father and be the emotional punching bag of Uno (John Lloyd Cruz) who had a bad temper (F-words everywhere!), an a-hole attitude (“So what? Buhay ko ‘to. Kahit mag-swimming ako sa alak wala ka pakialam!”), crazy reasoning (he wanted to take care of CJ and the baby, but made her sleep on an uncomfortable sofa bed in the living room with poor ventilation), and a drinking problem that were all supposedly reasonable because of abandonment issues. Hey, he wasn’t named Abusado for nothing.

The fact that Star Cinema was willing to romanticize such an abusive relationship and treat the girl like a lovestruck puppy with a Messiah Complex was just absurd, but then again the flimsy story wasn’t its strongest suit. With a master director of the genre (Cathy Garcia-Molina) and two of the most charming comedic actors in local cinema, how could it not work?

3. Iba pa rin talaga ang charms ni John Lloyd (huge eyebags and all). When CJ said “Nabuntis mo ako dahil diyan sa bwiset na ngiti mo”, I actually believed her. I wouldn’t be surprised if several virgins walked out of the theater pregnant and that Lloydie would be faced with multiple paternity suits nine months from now.

The only thing I couldn’t stand about him was all the heavy drinking that he was required to do. Star Cinema, I already sent a plea way back in A Second Chance. Stop being negative enablers, please!

4. It was a good thing that Liberty Pacific was a fictional airline because the crew’s uniforms were tragic. The light blue and beige combination reminded me of horrible high school memories in Ateneo and I didn’t even attend that school.

5. I could easily understand why Lloydie was the regular Pinoy guy’s hero because he always looked like he last stepped in a gym when Slimmer’s World first opened. On top of that, his contract seemed to require that he show off his daddey bod and have a tween-friendly sex scene. A drunk and stooped over the toilet bowl Jennylyn with Lloydie ready to pump behind her even with a missing condom merited the R-13 rating and that scene was just hilarious.

I did feel a bit uncomfortable since there were a few kids from where I was seated. Surely their parents immediately regretted lying about their age.

6. Uno had to be the saddest bachelor because he only had kitchenware for one (seriously, why would anyone buy one plate and glass? Never expecting guests?). He ate microwaved food every day, stocked his fridge with yoghurt, and couldn’t even take care of a plant. Wait, I think I just described myself. Truly sad.

I also couldn’t understand how he could own a Chopard watch and a really nice SUV, and yet couldn’t afford a decent bed. Unless it was really his choice to just place a mattress on the floor for a zen Japanese effect which I totally respect.

7. Jennylyn has perfected these rom-com roles to a tee. Some jokes probably ended up funnier than intended because her every little reaction or expression just added so much to the scene. My favorites were: a) when she realized that she was already falling for him and had to control her smile, and b) when she treated a wasted Lloydie like a baby, cooing and wiping his mouth while saying “Naku naman ang baby naglungad”. Napakahusay.

She was so adorable that I didn’t mind if she was playing a crazy character who would place all of her used pregnancy test kits on a table (ewwness). The only scene that really fell flat was the airport stalking bit, not only because it made me question airport security but also because a bad wig and huge mole never really looked funny except on a Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo impersonator.

8. You know you’re watching a Lloydie movie because someone will definitely get a terrible headache and give him a chance to prescribe Biogesic with a glass of water. Also, there will be a scene where he hasn’t eaten for days and will be offered a partially consumed Magic Flakes crackers. Bonus na lang yung Western Union product placement.

9. Could someone check on Richard Yap? He seemed to have been replaced by a robot.

10. I really loved CJ’s white sando-wearing clan not only because they were the type that would put a huge tarp sa bayan to inform everyone about a family member’s success (raise your hand if you could relate), but also because they had a really funny mantra (the whole “Dahil lahat tayo Manalo!” bit). The scene where CJ didn’t know how to break the news about her pregnancy to her overeager family delivered the loudest and most genuine laughs (“Positive ba anak?”, “Ilang buwan ang training?” “Nine months po.”).

11. When a drunk Baron Geisler showed up as CJ’s ex, I started to wonder why she had a penchant for alcoholics. Forget being a flight attendant, she should have been a caregiver slash therapist.

12. The kid next door was initially cute and funny until she completely invaded their lives and turned into an unwelcome pet.

(Disclaimer: Being averse to kids and pets does not make me a monster. I’m a good person. Huhuhu.)

13. The final scene with the paper airplanes triggered my OCD and I just wanted to enter the screen, pick them all up, and throw them in the trash. How romantic of me.

P.S. Did they really have to reveal the paternity results? Did they expect viewers to go home in baliw-baliwan mode not knowing if Uno was the real father (even if this was a Star Cinema love story and it was all but a given)? Please.

Rating: ★★★☆☆