DOTGA: DA ONE THAT GHOST AWAY (Tony Reyes, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on DOTGA: Da One That Ghost Away:

1. I was surprised that Vhong Navarro wasn’t included in the cast given that he headlined the last two horror-comedy films of Star Cinema (please note that I didn’t consider the unintentionally comedic horror films of Kris Aquino, like Segunda Mano where she pissed her pants in terror for buying a secondhand Prada bag).

In terms of comparison, this one was less like Bulong (actually a guilty pleasure) and more of Da Possessed (which had the gall to make fun of Vhong’s rape case). I already expected tons of corny jokes and lame slapstick humor, but even with my IQ lowered and in full babaw mode, I could only muster one giggle in all 100 minutes (again, I only counted the intentional one because I spent the entire movie hysterically laughing at Enzo Pineda’s acting that he equated with wide eyes and flaring nostrils).

2. Carmel (Kim Chiu) and Jerald (Ryan Bang) were ghost hunters slash con artists that brought along their team dressed as horror film characters (Ghost Bride, Chucky, Tiyanak, etc.) to terrorize and pretend exorcise haunted houses. She used a magical triangle (yes, the musical instrument in the percussion family) and shouted nonsensical chants (“Mother Ignacia! Sergeant Esguerra! Papuntang Abra!”) as part of her ritual. I was surprised that there were people who actually fell for this kind of silliness (although their first victim was a Krizzy impersonator and we all knew how gullible she could get).

3. This movie was rated PG because the MTRCB thought that parents could easily explain what Carmel meant when she said “Sabi na di ako nagpi-pinger eh” after using a dating app called PinGer. Or why she kept emphasizing the name of Enzo as JACK COLmenares (just in case it still wasn’t obvious enough, his name was written exactly like that on a white board). Should we expect the Colmenares sisters to be named Jaja, Nadia, and Gina? Seriously, this type of Pinoy green humor hadn’t been funny since my high school days circa ‘90s.

4. Terrible, terrible editing. In one scene, Serrah (Maymay Entrata) was looking at her compact mirror and asking “What is that ghost I see?” and then it abruptly cut to her and Chire (Edward Barber) walking to school. What was that about?

(Also, as a huge #MayWard fan, please give them a good film that they actually deserved! Sayang talaga sila!)

5. Oh, Jerald also worked as a language teacher in a school called Fil-Eng-The-Blanks. Wala na bang ikaka-corny pa ang pelikulang ito?

6. The only funny scene that I mentioned earlier was a brief gag where Carmel hugged a sweaty Jack, then wiped the wet part of her cheek with her left hand, and smelled it like she was endorsing the newest Downy fabric conditioner. It was a testament to Kim’s charm and sharp comic timing that a throwaway moment like that would actually work.

7. If Enzo acted like his life (or career?) depended on it, on the other end of the spectrum was Ronnie Alonte who didn’t even feel the need to act at all (was it because it was just a cameo role?).

8. Tabako vs Sadako? Bearable. Valak vs Halak? Meh. Black Panty vs Black Panther? Wala na maisip??

9. I felt bad for the extras in the scene where they pretended to freeze as part of a spell (think Mannequin Challenge only without music). Carmel had this really lengthy monologue (“Oo nasaktan na ako lola. Shinota niya ang best friend mo!!”) and you could actually see some of them in the background starting to shake (as in nanginginig na sa sobrang ngalay). I could have subbed for any of them because I had always been a master Statue Dancer.

10. Carmel: “Ikaw pa rin ang DOTGA ko!”

Jerald: “Da One That Ghost Away?”

Carmel: “Da One That Gusto Ako Pero Baka Maging Gusto Ko Rin!!”

Huh? Isn’t that DOTGAPBMGKR?!

Kimmy, pinapainit mo ang anit sa ibabaw ng ulo ko!!

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

LOVING IN TANDEM (Giselle Andres, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Loving in Tandem:

1. In one supposedly romantic scene, Luke (Edward Barber) described Shine (Maymay Entrata) as “not the kind of beauty that you see in movies and TV” and that “she was beautiful because she had a big heart that never stopped loving”. I really had no clue what he was talking about because I was completely enamored by Maymay’s distinctly Pinay beauty.

Given how funny and game she was in this film, she would actually be the kind of young actress that I’d root for and want to see more in future (better) Star Cinema rom-coms. One that wouldn’t use her physical appearance as a source of jokes, perhaps?

2. I had seen the entire filmography of Maricel Soriano and the plot of this movie reminded me a bit of Manchichiritchit where she also played a swindler that took advantage of (and later developed a romantic connection with) bumbling promdi Andrew E.

Similar to that one, I had a problem with the message that committing a crime was justifiable depending on necessity (in this case, Shine needed the money for her brother’s blood transfusion). One character even said, “Bakit hindi na lang siya humiram ng pera sa atin?” and the answer was, “Hiyang-hiya na raw sya sa mga utang niya.” Pero hindi siya nahiya na magnakaw sa iba? Tsk tsk.

And when she got caught red-handed by Luke, she was able to easily find several jobs to pay off the stolen amount. Why resort to snatching then? That was just a terrible meet cute setup.

3. “Mabuhay Team Embellish, at your service!” just didn’t have the same comedic impact as “Welcome to Heaven Resort, where you can rest in peace forever!”. I also couldn’t get over the scene where Shine was dusting the windows and when a customer came in, she then proceeded to shampoo the hair without even washing her hands. Eek!

4. Maymay may have been the star of this movie, but Edward was just as charming (would this signal the start of my MayWard obsession?). There were a lot of cute scenes (the blushing cheeks!) that worked mainly because of their strong chemistry.

The jeepney scene delivered the right amount of laughs and kilig, but it was the Closer You & I moment that made me squeal in my seat like a thirteen year old. I had always associated that song with the Close-Up commercial, but I just might remember it more now as the one that Shine abruptly sang (“The closer I get to touching youuuuu…”) before their naudlot kiss. Too funny!

5. “Alam mo ano problema mo? Puro pera ang nasa isip mo. Anghel nga itsura mo pero halimaw ka!” Uhm wait, didn’t you steal his money? Why play the victim card?

6. Most of the supporting cast really played it broad and loud (literally screaming their lines to elicit laughs). In one scene, Shine’s family members had to say things in chorus (“Sixty thousand pesos??”) like it would make the joke funnier (it didn’t).

There was also one gag involving a surprise birthday party for Luke where his friends covered themselves in ketchup and pretended to be victims of violence (police brutality?). It was a bit uncomfortable to watch given that its humor was very much like that viral proposal video with a fake police arrest.

The movie was trying too hard to be relevant (very much like its title) when it just didn’t need to be. The more successful jokes were just effortless, like that throwaway line by one character that mimicked everyone’s favorite Salazar sister, Bobbie (“Bakit parang kasalanan ko?”).

7. “Jowa means prisoner.” Who else could relate? (Just kidding, I don’t want to be single any time soon.)

Rating: ★★☆☆☆