MOVIE REVIEW: I LOVE YOU, HATER (Giselle Andres, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on I Love You, Hater:

1. In the words of the great Beyoncé, “Honesty is such a lonely word. Everyone is so untrue. Honesty is hardly ever heard. And mostly what I need from you.” (I know this was a Billy Joel original, but I’m a self-proclaimed millennial.)

Joko (Joshua Garcia) lived in his own world of lies. He fabricated a story to his family about working in New York and then he pretended to be a swishy beshie so that he could apprentice (read: be the next Darla) for Digital Empress Sasha Imperial (Kris Aquino, in her most challenging role as herself).

On the other hand, Zoey (Julia Barretto) with all of her emotional baggage that stemmed from father abandonment issues was allergic to lies. Would these two morally opposite poles attract (even with a pretend gender conflict)? We wouldn’t need an alien intervention to know the answer to this one.

In the spirit of honesty and the movie’s #SaTrueLang hashtag (wait, was that redundant?), let me say that I’m no hater, but I did not love this one at all. Similar to Giselle Andres’ last directorial effort Loving in Tandem, the weak and muddled plot could not be salvaged by the enthusiastic performances of its leads.

2. This might sound like a Julia Barretto Appreciation Post because I would be raving like a lovestruck lunatic over the next few sentences so be warned.

In last year’s Love You to the Stars and Back, I hailed her performance as the second coming of Queen Claudine Barretto. With this movie, she just officially earned her right to finally step out of her aunt’s shadow (yes, this would be the last time that I would compare her to Ate Clau).

In one scene, Zoey (who looked gorgeous with her wet, slicked back hair) attended the wedding of her half-sister where her absentee father (Ricardo Cepeda) proudly bragged about his “only daughter”. It was such a sad moment and you could see the terrible pain and humiliation in Zoey’s eyes, especially when the tears started to well up while she stormed out of the event (the succeeding scene where she sobbed in her room wasn’t even needed).

When Zoey admitted her feelings for Joko and then discovered his ruse, their confrontation scene (“Di ko alam kung bakit ako nagmahal…”) was an acting highlight for Julia. What started as an iyak-tawa delivery turned into full-blown rage and a definite nganga (did this girl really do that?) moment for me. I wonder how much of the behind the scenes issues and tension contributed to that brilliant scene. Hugot kung hugot, you go girl! Also, those seemingly naughty stares while she teased Joko were just too funny. Mahusay talaga siya dito.

(Side note: Joshua could still cry on cue, but his performance here seemed to lack the usual sensitivity and depth.)

3. Kris was surprisingly tolerable here and her supporting role was obviously stretched to ensure that she would get as much screen time as JoshLia. I guess it didn’t hurt that most of her scenes involved Sasha shooting her vlogs (for National Bookstore and iFlix, no less) so it was definitely in her wheelhouse. She also had a subplot about an Alzheimer’s-stricken father (Ronaldo Valdez, wonderful as always) and was given a couple of dramatic highlights (one closely resembled the McDo Karen ad) that probably would have been more effective if she weren’t trying so damn hard to squeeze her tearducts (as in literal na more pikit para pumatak ang luha).

If anything, I really loved her joyously colorful Happy Pride outfits. I wonder how many glitter unicorns had to die just to make them.

4. Speaking of pride, I was shocked to see an unrecognizable Mark Neumann playing one half of a gay couple (the other half was Markki Stroem). He was built up as a teen idol in Artista Academy and here he looked like a lipstick lesbian who might also own a Mio.

Why wasn’t the couple even invited when Zoey and Joko went to O Bar (billed here as Rave)? You know this was a work of fiction because in that scene where a Sarah Geronimo impersonator was performing, nobody from the crowd was doing the viral Tala dance moves.

5. Joshua must really be trying to fill the void left by John Lloyd Cruz because he had a Biogesic-like scene where he took Enervon and a few seconds later an extra was tasked to say “Ang taas ng energy mo!!”. Agad-agad??

I laughed out really loud though when promdi Joko called out the terrible food served in the wedding by saying “Hilaw nga nila sinerve yung steak eh. May dugo-dugo pa. Gross!” Nyahahaha!

6. My favorite scene was when Joko’s clan threw a surprise birthday party (complete with papier-mache lechon and cake) for Zoey. He then offered his father to dance with her and said, “Pahiram ko muna sa’yo ang tatay ko.” It was touching, heartfelt, and made me wish that Zoey had a standalone movie.

7. Burning questions:

• Why was Zoey wearing those short shorts (albeit stylish) for an important job interview?

• Would a Digital Empress really hire somebody that she met in an elevator and gave basic graphic design suggestions? More importantly, why couldn’t she afford to pay (or give a shoutout) for a decent logo design?

• Were those Instagram pictures intentionally Photoshopped to make Zoey’s father and his family look like they were levitating directly across the Leaning Tower of Pisa?

• Whenever Joko would get a hard-on, where was the actual bukol? What was he trying to cover?

• Why did Sasha give Joko some National Bookstore gift certificates and ask him to buy a new outfit? (Made out of cartolina, glitter, and glue gun?)

• When Zoey’s friend encouraged her crush on “gay” Joko by shouting “Wag matakot, maki-beki!”, was she really being a supportive friend or a staunch LGBT advocate?

• With the movie already running far too long, did we really need a recap of their sweetest moments before the climactic… hug?

8. “Kumain ka ng torta para lumaki kang borta.” And yet in my dyslexic brain it kept coming up as “Kumain ka ng borta na may malaking torta.” #SaTrueLang tayo besh.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: 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: ★★☆☆☆