BOY TOKWA: LODI NG GAPO (Tony Reyes, 2019)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Boy Tokwa: Lodi ng Gapo:

1. Anak ng tokwa! I was hoping for a palate cleanser after the mediocrity (to put it lightly) of the recently concluded Metro Manila Film Festival, but I ended up with this problematic garbage (to put it lightly) as my very first movie of 2019. Which shouldn’t be a surprise since I started 2018 with the stinker Haunted Forest and ended it with Jack Em Popoy: The Puliscredibles. Why break tradition, right?

2. The movie opened with a disclaimer that it was inspired by a true story, but any similarities to actual persons or events were purely coincidental. Was that supposed to be a joke? Like the opening scene with the announcement of the arrival of Cebu Pacific flight 5JX while a clip of (I think) a non-Cebu Pacific plane was landing at Clark International Airport?

3. The cast of young unknowns (half of which looked like they were part of the Sotto clan, since Tito Sotto was a producer) were just awful. Everyone talked like they were communicating with dogs that lived three blocks away from SM Southmall. The ones that played the local relatives had an American twang even if they were just explaining what ukay-ukay meant. One had the unfortunate task of delivering this line: “Lodi ng Gapo? Petmalu! Boom panes!”. Like, eww.

4. Jose Manalo played the titular role who was some sort of Robin Hood in 1940’s Olongapo. He would con American soldiers into buying overpriced tuko (gecko?) or used smelly panties and then donate the money to the needy. He also cheated them a lot in poker games, but was supposedly just doing a heroic deed. As one character (Joey Marquez) described him, “Hindi siya katulad ng ibang con man na walang puso. May moral standards siya at hindi tuma-target ng mga Pinoy.” Eh di wow!

(In hindsight though, anybody willing to pay 250 dollars for funky-smelling underwear probably deserved their fate.)

5. The iconic Vangie Labalan was Mommy Tokwa. Nothing follows.

6. It’s already 2019 and the sources of humor here included a stutterer (“Pina-kiki-kiki-kiki-usapan ko pa…”), a Chinese character named Tsing Tsong Atsay (Epy Quizon) who used an abacus to compute his poker winnings, and a joke about a maliit na unan (unano, of course!). Woke social media… attack!!

7. Tito Sen, what happened to the movie’s budget? Why were the same American soldier extras and pokpok chorus walking in the background in every Olongapo scene? Why was a green screen used in the Guam tourist spots montage? Why didn’t they even change the name of Kandi Towers in Pampanga when it was supposed to substitute for a hotel in Guam?

On the other hand, four different actresses played Daughter Tokwa and yet they looked nothing like each other.

8. My favorite moment in the movie was when Boy Tokwa was abandoned by his wife and he started reading her goodbye letter. The voiceover screamed, “I AM LEAVING YOU BOY! YOU ARE NEVER SEEING US AGAIN!”. I imagined that the letter was also written in all caps.

Immediately after, Boy had a walling scene while wailing, “Juskopo, anong kasalanan ko?” and then the camera focused on an altar of religious images. Buti hindi nagsalita ang mga rebulto ng, “Anak, nanloko ka kasi ng mga ‘Kano. Karma yan.”

9. Sample dialogue that made me fart in my seat:

• Boy Tokwa courting his future wife with this bagung-bagong pick-up line: “Remember M, remember E, put them together, remember ME!”

• Millennial apo after the con man story: “In this house, we stan a generous low-low!”

• One of the Sotto kids on the phone with his mom (Karel Marquez): “Sometimes I like talking to Siri more than talking to you!”

• Girlfriend to one of the Sotto kids: “The stars shine so bright, but if you take a closer look, they burn deep inside… just like you.”

Repeat after me: Anak ng tokwa!!

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

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PASSENGERS (Morten Tyldum, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Passengers:

1. I could never be an astronaut. Just the thought of putting on a helmet (and the fear that my head would get stuck in it) had given me endless nightmares. I almost fainted when I saw that viral video where a teenage girl got her head caught in a pumpkin. Suffice to say, I wouldn’t survive in a spaceship even if I were in suspended animation for 120 years (because I would eventually wake up and immediately die of claustrophobia).

2. I wasn’t the biggest fan of recent space sci-fi movies (Elysium, Interstellar, not even the critically-lauded Gravity), but an interesting trailer that promised a few thrills and my fondness for Chris Pratt since Guardians of the Galaxy was enough to draw me in. Well, thank goodness for his cute butt because I really wasn’t expecting this to be a comedy.

3. The Avalon’s voice sounded very much like that soothing theme park voice you hear before boarding a ride in Disneyland. For our local version, I would like to suggest that we get the Ate voice from Uniqlo that courteously thanks all customers for “shahpeeng”.

4. Pratt was still charming as ever here, but it ultimately became his downfall. Even during the dramatic moments, it was just hard to take him seriously. Like he was trying to keep a straight face while giving these directions: “We need to find something big, something broken, something wrong.” He could very well have been talking about the screenplay. (Also, he looked cute in a scruffy beard.)

5. A lot of vicious reviews called this clunker “Titanic in Space” and I could understand why. As the biggest fan of that disaster flick (shamelessly, still my favorite film of all time), I remembered it so much in the following scenes:

• The langit-lupa situation of the doomed lovers, where he flew coach and could only get the normal cup of coffee while she belonged in the gold section that could choose between a macchiato and a French cream blend. (One of the reasons why I enjoy flying Cebu Pacific: no class distinction, everyone can only purchase the same “Snacks for sale!”.)

• Remember when Rose felt lonely and abandoned and wanted to jump off the ship? Yup, somebody here also felt terribly alone and attempted to jump into oblivion (coincidentally, another bad space sci-fi movie).

• “Do you trust me?” and “You die, I die” scenes lifted directly from the sinking ship’s screenplay (which was obviously not its strongest suit to begin with).

• One auto-dock left that could only save either of them. Dying of hypothermia next to a floating door in the ocean was more romantic.

• His one last habilin to “Wake up and you’ll finish what you were supposed to do” sounded very much like “You’re going to die an old woman and have lots of babies…” and then the camera slowly panned to the picture frames with Rose showing that she indeed lived a full life, rode horses, and toured the world and…wait, I needed to wipe away my tears.

6. I loved how Chris and Jennifer Lawrence (in a knockout white bathing suit) were able to maintain their to die for bodies through constant sex on every flat surface. But then again, they were in space and could have gone beyond the Kama Sutra, but didn’t. Imagine the endless possibilities!

7. 19 years to send mail in outer space? Would that be sloth mail?

8. Michael Sheen as the android bartender reminded me of Rosie in The Jetsons. In one scene, I actually thought that Chris was also an android because he was brutally attacked by JLaw and yet didn’t sustain any wounds or bruises. Why?

9. I probably laughed the loudest when JLaw screamed “Come back to me! I can’t live on the ship without you!!”. No wait, it was actually when she pulled the string to bring back a dead floating Chris in space. Now why didn’t Sandra Bullock think of that?

Rating: ★★☆☆☆