CAMPUS CRUSH (Crisaldo Pablo, 2009)

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Signs that you’re probably watching a local queer B-movie (which, let’s admit it, has its own special place in Philippine cinema):

• The boys in the swim team wearing oh-so-skimpy trunks like they were stage-ready for their production of Total Eclipse of the Heart in White Bird

• A public shower room scene where three swimmers would rather share one spout while rubbing their really wet bodies

• Cute cotton candy pink school uniforms for guys, approved by Britney Spears

• The iconic Chamyto Aguedan

• Copious amounts of male frontal nudity (that weirdly reminded me of Pampanga’s Best) and gratuitous sex in the most unexpected places (e.g. utility room next to cans of Boysen paint)

• Sample dialogue: “Gwapo ka pero pokpok ka!!”

• La La Fish Crackers product placement

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

THE ANNULMENT (Mac Alejandre, 2019)

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Hiyang-hiya si Britney Spears sa pagka-toxic ng mag-asawang ‘to.

Grabe for a drama sobrang dami ng tawa ko lalo na nung nagbuhusan sila ng isang jug ng water before mag-kitchen sex tapos slo-mo focus sa basang-basang (wink, wink) chest ni Joem Bascon hahaha! Tapos nung sex scene inutusan niya si Lovi Poe na “Kagatin mo!” habang pababa si ate mo sa nipples at pototoy niya hahaha!

Lovi to Myrtle Sarrosa (who should probably stick to cosplaying): “Sino ka? Anong tawag nila sa’yo maliban sa kabit?” (Hello gurl di mo ba kilala si Ate Marya? Eh di kerida, mistress, number 2 are you facking my husband anuba!!)

Meron pa parang marital rape na biglang naging angry sex na puro hampasan (sa braso??) na napaisip ako kung malamok lang sa kwarto nila.

Best yung totoong sinabon ni Lovi ang likod ni Joem sa shower sex scene. Very realistic. At syempre hagalpak ako nung sumbatan na ng infidelity at tinanong ni ate kung “Sinasabon mo rin ba ang likod niya?”. Hahahahaha!!

But wait, hindi pa ako umaabot dun sa OA court scene na straight out of Ipaglaban Mo. Mas naiyak ako at na-bother na pinayagan ng judge yung ganung shade ng purple lipstick sa lawyer ni Lovi. I object!!

Sigurado ba talaga na hindi ito directed by Joel Lamangan?

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

SPRING BREAKERS (Harmony Korine, 2012)

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I surprised even myself that I was able to finish this stinker. The movie definitely brought out the old fart in me.

I almost lost it when James Franco started belting out Britney Spears’ Everytime (unconvincingly) on the piano. WTF?!

If the point of the movie was to scare parents from sending their daughters to spring break, it should work. This was no different from a Girls Gone Wild video.

I pitied these Disney princesses trying desperately to break free from their good girl image. Was nudity and twerking really the way to go?

Now where was Miley Cyrus when you really needed her?

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

(Originally published September 8, 2013.)

THE SMURFS 2 (Raja Gosnell, 2013)

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You and your kids deserve so much better than this.

Smurfs 2 was so excruciating to watch. It was a bottom of the barrel kids’ movie. I felt sorry for Neil Patrick Harris.

The best part was Britney Spears’ Ooh La La that signaled the end of the film. Blue has never been this nauseating.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

(Originally published August 12, 2013.)

CAN’T HELP FALLING IN LOVE (Mae Cruz-Alviar, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Can’t Help Falling in Love:

1. I think it was during the public bathroom scene where Dos (Daniel Padilla) was removing the heels of Gab (Kathryn Bernardo), which must have felt so good because she was having a wild orgasm, that I immediately knew I wouldn’t like this movie. It was clearly trying too hard to wring out laughs by placing its characters in the most absurd situations. That scene was capped off by strangers entering the room and looking disgusted even if it was completely obvious that nothing kinky was going on (hello, his head wasn’t even under her skirt!).

It was a shame really because Daniel and Kathryn were so game all throughout this movie even if the material failed to capitalize on their palpable onscreen chemistry.

2. I had been crowing about Daniel’s natural charms (reminiscent of his uncle Robin’s) in previous movies so the bigger surprise here for me was Kathryn. Not only did she look so fresh and lovely (a vision in yellow during her grand entrance! radiant in black during the wake!), but she also managed to drop most of her annoying acting tics.

Whatever decongestant she took worked because she didn’t sound as oddly nasal as before. She also managed to tone down her pabebe delivery and she was really effective in most of her dramatic scenes (my favorite was her quiet sumbat moment outside the police station; “Nagmahal ka na ba? Minahal ka na ba?”). The only thing left for her to work on would be controlling her eyes because she would resort to unintentionally widening them while speaking (nandidilat for no reason).

Anyway, I just made a mental note to buy Pond’s as soon as the stores open today.

3. As a rule, Star Cinema characters should avoid getting drunk in bars because they would always end up in sticky situations (literally and figuratively?) after. I didn’t buy the ridiculous premise of these two ending up married after a crazy night of partying (hey, this wasn’t Vegas and none of them were Britney; besides, were they carrying all the legal documents that night to get a marriage license issued on the spot?).

None of the succeeding events made a lot of sense as well. I wouldn’t recommend this movie to any of my lawyer friends because their eyes might end up rolling out of their sockets in the scenes where Gab interviewed Dos’ ex-girlfriends to prove his impotence or Gab pretended to make out with her girl friend in Sogo while Dos took pictures of them as proof of homosexuality (they ended up getting arrested after for supposedly creating a porno, wtf?!).

In one scene, Gab dressed up as a taong grasa because she was supposedly baliw sa pag-ibig and insanity was one of the major grounds for annulment. I guess they were to blame for hiring a lawyer from a firm called Hulog ng Langit. (Terrible, terrible screenplay, I tell you.)

4. Did we really need those cameos of Zanjoe Marudo, Ejay Falcon, and Piolo Pascual? Even a bald Daniel Radcliffe made a surprise appearance. Why create unnecessary distractions on an already messy story?

5. Since there was nothing original in this movie, I wasn’t surprised at all that Matteo Guidicelli played the third wheel yet again and that his character (unfortunately named Jason) was villified for being a controlling boyfriend. So basically he loved his girlfriend and supported her for six years even if she only loved him back for security and stability and yet he was the bad guy just for wanting what was best for her. Oh-kay!

Also, they called each other Bud so I guess it was meant to be a friendzone experience right from the start.

6. Of course there would be a reason to go out of town! Destination of choice? Argao, Cebu. A tour of the city’s old churches, cliff diving, coral reef diving, motorcycle rides along the cliffside roads, I was surprised they didn’t use these instead for the channel’s summer station ID.

7. I wish there were more of the small moments that genuinely made me smile (Dos offering a basahan to Gab while she was crying, or Dos distracting Gab with his love notes written on napkins). The scene where Dos was making his huling habilin to his extended family could have easily been milked for laughs and tears, but it just fell short of being great.

I have enjoyed a number of past rom-coms by Direk Mae (Bride for Rent, Everyday I Love You), but she was left with very little to work with here.

8. For every realistically heartfelt line like “Kapag natikman mo pala, nakaka-adik ang umasa”, there were even more empty platitudes like “Mas pipiliin ko ang isang bukas na nandun ka, kesa sa isang milyong bukas na wala ka.”

Ang Babae sa Septic Tank 2: #ForeverIsNotEnough should be required viewing for Star Cinema’s writing team. Seriously.

9. I think I developed an acute case of tinnitus when Gab serenaded Dos with her own version of Panalangin. And that was minutes before his critical brain surgery. Pigain nyo na lang ang apdo ko, but take that portable Magic Sing away from her!!

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

MR. RIGHT (Paco Cabezas, 2015)

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My notes on Mr. Right:

1. On the Anna Kendrick scale of movies, this one would be closer to Twilight than Up in the Air. In terms of her comedies, it would be on the side of Breaking Dawn, Part 1 rather than Pitch Perfect. I’m sure she has never heard the term pabebe acting (perfected by Kathryn Bernardo in She’s Dating the Gangster), but it seems to have invaded Hollywood as well through her performance as a hyperactive, kooky, childish woman who spoke ten decibels higher than the normal range.

As Martha, she wore Ariana Grande kitty ears, took selfies of her boobs (“They look like a butt!”), dreamt of dating Lex Luthor, and rawred like a T. Rex (“I am a T. Rex! I am invincible!”). It was all too cutesy (no, pa-cute) that I half-expected her to sing the line “Ikaw nga ba ang icing sa ibabaw ng cupcake ko?”.

2. Sam Rockwell had done a lot of offbeat roles and I immediately loved his Mr. Right character as soon as he started dancing Christopher Walken-style during the opening credits. But then he showed up in the next scene with a mosaic Hawaiian shirt (that not even Mayor Atienza would be caught dead wearing) and sky blue slacks and I immediately took back my heart.

3. The scenes that made my blood curdle from the icky pabebe-ness were:

• The meet cute in 7/11 where they bumped into each other and boxes of Trojan condoms flew in the air in slow motion like doves in a John Woo movie

• When Martha and Right had their first date in the park and a sloppy hitman started shooting at them and they ended up faux dancing to avoid the bullets

• Immediately after that scene, they were in matchy-matchy Bitch 1 and Bitch 2 couple shirts (trademarked by Tina Paner and Ramon Christopher) and heart-shaped sunglasses on the way to a club

• That god-awful jumping on the bed scene that came straight out of High School Musical

• A knife-throwing foreplay session (ugh!)

4. I could never eat inside the bathroom (much less the shower) even if it were the tastiest In-N-Out burger. The thought of the toilet staring at me while I chew would be enough to start my heaving. Gross!

5. Britney’s fans would be surprised to see Anson Mount in this movie. He was completely unrecognizable with the shaggy beard. If Brit was not yet a woman in Crossroads, she would definitely be one after she hitchhikes with this new Ben.

6. If anything, the lame but goofy action scenes (and all the gratuitous violence) were a bit fun to watch. To be perfectly honest though, I was rooting for the villains to kill the pabebe couple whose most romantic line in the entire movie was “I feel like I’m in a coma with you.” Shoot, shoot, shoot!

Rating: ★★☆☆☆