THE HOWS OF US (Cathy Garcia-Molina, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on The Hows of Us:

1. If you’re an old soul (read: an oldie afraid to admit that he’s beyond his prime) like me, you probably have downloaded and played Homescapes (currently ranked #73 in the Apple App Store) where your goal was to build this dream house and decorate it with all types of furniture. The first five minutes of this movie reminded me so much of that game, with George (Kathryn Bernardo) and Primo (Daniel Padilla) providing the voiceover while they selected the perfect couch for their living room. That scene culminated in a huge shouting match that signalled the end of their relationship before transitioning to a split screen sequence that was completely lifted from Kalyeserye (I swear I could hear an instrumental version of Rey Valera’s Kahit Maputi na ang Buhok Ko in the background, a song I have associated with AlDub ever since I died of kilig from their McDonald’s commercial heydays). And then it turned into a Mannequin Challenge with the camera moving around while the pair pretended to be serious contenders in a game of stop dance. Wait, were they aiming to do a recap of pop culture references for this decade?

2. I honestly expected this to be KathNiel’s response to the critical success of JaDine’s Never Not Love You, but it simply lacked the depth and maturity (in terms of characters and story) needed to display their growth as artists (insert that meme of Tyra Banks screaming “I was rooting for you! We were all rooting for you!!”).

Hearing Kathryn utter the word “Putangina!” repeatedly just wasn’t enough, especially if you would consider a Miss Granny like Sarah Geronimo saying vulgar words like “puke” and “hindot” in her most recent film. While their screen rivals tackled weighty themes like long distance relationships and adult responsibilities, the biggest conflict in this movie was whether George should continue with her jeepney ride to take her med school exam or scream “para!” to get down and help a drunk Primo who was slumped on the road. These were supposed to be real people problems? Seryoso?

Side note: I guess it spoke a lot about the maturity of these characters that the fans still shrieked their lungs out every time the lovebirds kissed.

3. Dear Star Cinema, wasn’t it too early to start recycling elements from your recent hits? There were so many things here that reminded me so much of Starting Over Again from George’s line of “In him, I saw a good man…” to that supposedly sensual flirtation reminiscent of Toni Gonzaga’s stepladder scene down to that drunk rant of George with her gay BFF (Juan Miguel Severo) that never reached the comedic heights of Beauty Gonzalez’s “Yang hope na yan, lason yan” moment. I’m sure you have a strong pool of writers. Wala na bang bago? (As in Susan Africa played a Tita Lola role and ended up dead after a few scenes.)

4. If anything, Kathryn looked so gorgeous here (with or without her EO Optical contacts) and I’d have to commend her for making the most out of her thinly-written character. She only had one off moment when she was required to overact like crazy in that “Pagod na pagod na pagod na ako!” scene. Otherwise, she was actually good in her dramatic scenes (even if she played a selfish girlfriend required to say lines like “Wala kang pambili kahit cupcake man lang para sa akin?”) and was even better during the (abruptly) comedic second half. She seemed headed back to her glorious Magkaribal/Mara Clara days. Really happy for her!!

And no amount of Daniel sporting a horrible mullet and looking like a deranged version of Lady Diane (“Sa-sa-Saddami ng problema natin!”) minimized the fact that this tandem could still deliver the requisite kiligs. My favorite moment had to be that cringey-sweet hugot of Primo: “Matagal na naman akong talo eh simula nung hinayaan kong mawala ka”. Awww!

(P.S. Ang galing na nila umarte pareho. Please give them the movie that they deserve!!)

5. I had seen the entire filmography of Maricel Soriano so I know that that entire splitting of the house with masking tape gag was already done with much better results in Kung Kaya Mo, Kaya Ko Rin! (and yes, it was also just copied from a much earlier film with Dolphy and Nida Blanca or some other Philippine Cinema legends that I was too lazy to Google). If I remembered it correctly, there was also a scene where Cesar Montano played his guitar and tried to win back Maricel through a harana. And when Maricel’s BFF Ruby Rodriguez decided to visit the house, she had to drag her over to her side because the rest of the space was off-limits. All of those exact same scenes were in this movie. Again, wala na bang bago?

6. In one clunky scene, George and Primo were selling their “conjugal” ancestral home to a potential buyer (Odette Khan) and after stating that it really didn’t have much value, Primo countered that it did have a lot of history and special memories, thus making it priceless. And I kept thinking, “Totoo ba? Ano naman paki ng buyer sa memories na yan?” so I was really surprised when she instead replied with “I like it! Eto na ang pera!” Huwaaaat?

7. Real jokes delivered while the lovebirds biked around Amsterdam:

• “Bakit ang daming nag-ba-bike dito?” “Eh bike-it naman hindi?”

• “Anong instrumento ang favorite sa Amsterdam?” “Eh di Amsterdrums!”

• “Ano ang favorite pet sa Amsterdam?” “Eh di Hamsterdam!”

• “Ano ang paboritong kainin sa Amsterdam?” “Eh di Hamsterdam and Cheese!”

Should I continue? AMSTERDAMMIT!!

8. “Sana samahan mo pa rin ako in finding out the answers to all the hows.” Hahahaha! Naipilit pa rin ang title.

But seriously, after My Ex and Whys and The Hows of Us, I wonder if Star Cinema still has plans of using the remaining 4W’s. Who Who Belles? What’s Upon a Time? Ready to Where? When Dramas? Oh, too punny!!

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

JUST THE WAY YOU ARE (Theodore Boborol, 2015)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Just The Way You Are:

1. Why does Star Cinema keep using the same font for their opening credits in almost all of their movies?

2. The movie began with Enrique Gil in full policeman uniform invading a teen party and stripping down to his bare bottom (boxers actually, but admit it you instantly decided to watch). Not complaining on that Magic Mike XXL primer at all.

3. So Enrique’s character loves to wear leather jackets in this kind of weather because I guess baskil is cool.

4. The first of the annoying blatant product placements (ABS-CBN Mobile) appeared in the first 15 minutes. The Generics Pharmacy, Alpine Sterilized Milk, and EO Optical followed every twenty minutes or so. These in-your-face commercials need to stop. (I loved the cameo of Ate Vi, though.)

5. I therefore conclude that an uglified Liza Soberano with thick eyebrows and braces still looks much better than 90% of our population during our best days.

6. If the movie had a makeover scene, it would have only lasted five seconds. Liza just needed a good tweezer to look like a goddess. Ang ganda ganda ganda ganda ganda niya. #kainggit

7. Yayo Aguila was really funny as the doting mom that still smelled the armpits of her teenage son. Who else could relate?

On the other hand, Sunshine Cruz was still looking gorgeous as ever. Really classy, too.

8. Enrique was obviously wearing shorts in the shower scene. It was a clunky setup with Liza entering and screaming. The exact same sequence was done much better in Bride for Rent.

9. The Case of the Disappearing Black Eye.

10. What is with this growing trend of “shout your feelings” scenes as catharsis in recent films? Enough please. Why can’t people just break stuff just like I do? Or just tweet them or post as a Facebook status.

11. Even with her twang (that sounded awkward during her Filipino lines), Liza actually proved that she’s a good actress. We can’t expect her to play the same Am-girl over and over, though so she needs to neutralize that accent. I can’t wait to see her in more serious roles.

12. “Sana hindi na lang tayo nagmamahal, no? Siguro hindi na rin tayo nasasaktan.” #hugot

13. Enrique is undeniably gwapo but he seriously needs a haircut. And get rid of the cheap highlights, please!!

14. Please Lord, sana hindi malason si Enrique ng milk tea!

15. Kinikilig ako! Juskopo! I’m too old for this!!

16. LizQuen is a winning combo. They’re both charming and they look really good together. Bagay sobra. I just wish they had better material. Chemistry can only do so much to save a movie.

17. “When you love, you always win. Kahit masaktan ka, may makukuha ka pa rin. Love will always leave you with a stronger heart.” #arayqbeh

18. Same old ending. I wish this love team will be given better projects in the future because it deserves much, much better than this derivative drivel.

19. I really love this no kissing clause. The constant teasing just makes it more kilig. Yun ang wala sa JaDine movies kasi laplapan sila nang laplapan lagi.

20. Why bother with a She’s All That remake when this was originally done in the Dingdong Dantes-Antoinette Taus cult classic, Kiss Mo Ko?

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published June 18, 2015.)