FELIX MANALO (Joel Lamangan, 2015)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Felix Manalo:

1. Let me start with a disclaimer. To all my INC friends, this is not an attack on your religious beliefs. All my opinions are about the movie and none on our differences of faith. Love and peace.

2. When I first saw the trailer of this film, I thought, what else was there to show? And I was right. Everything you needed to know was right there, down to all the stars and starlets that had cameo roles.

3. To be fair, there were some noteworthy things in this movie. The costumes and production design (except for the Xeroxed portraits of American Presidents) definitely showed that the movie had a huge budget and the attention to detail was commendable. Some roles (although predictable, Jaime Fabregas as a prayle? Groundbreaking!) were also well-acted.

4. I wasn’t sure why every location (down to street names) and year had to be flashed onscreen. I guess the movie wanted to clearly show the timeline (Birth to death! No wonder it was three hours long!!) of important events in Manalo’s life. But really, did we need to be reminded that they were in Paranaque when the shop clearly showed Sumbrereria de Paranaque? How about the word Maynila shown in the scene that was shot in front of the Manila City Hall?

5. For a movie with a budget though, the sound design was scratchy, the musical score was relentless, the editing was confusing (with abrupt transitions from scene to scene), and the visual effects (especially during the war scenes) were laughable. Also, in the latter part of the movie, Dennis Trillo and Bela Padilla (with perma-crimped hair) played older versions of themselves with full-on face latex but their hands didn’t even age one bit. That was a missed Vaseline endorsement right there.

6. I’m sure Manalo’s a very interesting person but this movie just didn’t give his life story any justice. The idea of a man constantly questioning his source of faith and transferring from one religion to another in search of the ultimate truth is a gold mine. Such a missed opportunity.

7. It was a typical Joel Lamangan (of late) movie. Some scenes were staged like a high school drama. Please bring back the director that created searing socio-political commentaries like Bulaklak ng Maynila and Ang Huling Birhen sa Lupa.

8. I really didn’t understand the whole Japanese War sequence. Was it to show that the INC were severely persecuted for staying true to their faith? The only thing I clearly understood was that we don’t have any other Japanese captain to cast in our movies except for Jacky Woo.

9. Speaking of great casting, Gabby Concepcion played the son of Dennis Trillo. I know, right?

10. One other thing that wasn’t clearly explained in the movie was the instant wealth of Manalo. The latter scenes showed him living in a mansion in Riverside, San Juan and another one showed him riding a Cadillac. Sure, it would have been a controversial topic that might spark a lot of debate but isn’t that what biopics are for?

11. If they got one thing right, it was to ask Sarah G. to sing the movie’s theme song. An additional star just for that (hey, this is my rating!).

12. The end credits listed the actors’ names in alphabetical order. By first name. I wanted to cry.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published October 19, 2015.)

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BEAUTY AND THE BESTIE (Wenn Deramas, 2015)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Beauty and the Bestie:

1. Ever since Petrang Kabayo became a huge hit (and after close to a dozen collaborations), you already knew what to expect from a Vice Ganda-Wenn Deramas movie. It was the same old formula recycled to death (insult one-liners, Pinoy pop culture parodies, endless sight gags, lowbrow slapstick, etc.) and your enjoyment depended on how you embraced this kind of humor.

BATB was still trashy to a fault but at least it was really funny. (Deramas had been vocal about the goal of his movies and he actually succeeded on this one.)

2. That awful anti-piracy ad with Derek Ramsay was ripe for a parody and the movie really got it right (eskinita chase, Kristoffer King, tomatoes and all). Maybe we should have replaced that one with this so that everyone could have a great laugh before each screening. Runner-up for best parody: the Ate waitress Happy Birthday dance.

3. Sample brand of humor:

Vice and his stand on riding in tandem…

“Paano gaganda ang buhay mo sa pagsakay sa motorsiklo na yan? Bumbay ka ba?”

Vice on the importance of skincare…

“Bakit di yang mga pores mo ang isara mo dahil bukas na bukas?”

Coco Martin displaying his English proficiency…

“Alam mo kung bakit di kita pinapansin? Kasi di kita maintindihan Ingles ka ng Ingles.”

4. Speaking of Coco, I was happy to see that he has improved a lot as a comedian. His best moments were those where he wasn’t even trying (twerking like a hot mess, taking advantage of his lisp by saying things like Elith Thupher Thecreth Thask Force, or making a fist by instinct when Vice tried to kiss him). Maybe it was time for him to rest from all the heavy drama and explore his rom-com leading man potential instead.

5. Not all of the jokes worked but those that did were just hilarious. Inasmuch as I really enjoyed that Hold On car sequence, I probably laughed the loudest in that whole Japanese restaurant fishpond scene.

I mean seriously, what was the most embarrassing thing you had done in an upscale resto? Had you ever chewed on the compressed table napkin? Mistook the bowl of water for hand washing as soup? Spill!

6. The JaDine romance (similar to AlDub’s in My Bebe Love) was completely disposable. Although Nadine Lustre was really game, the tandem’s love story was obviously just included to pull in the teen audience (and the love team’s ginormous fan base). All was forgiven though because James Reid bared his abs.

7. Further proof that Jacky Woo was the only available actor that can play Japanese characters in local cinema.

8. If you were keeping track of Deramas’ fascination with videogames, here was a rundown:

Praybeyt Benjamin 1 – Angry Birds
Praybeyt Benjamin 2 – Plants vs. Zombies and Dota
Beauty and the Bestie – Fruit Ninja

What else did I miss?

9. I felt bad that Miss International 2013 Bea Rose Santiago had to fart during the beauty pageant. Definitely not something fit for a queen. And speaking of queens, Vice Ganda’s got legs for days, no?

10. In one scene, I watched in horror as Nadine paraded onscreen wearing a horrible off-shoulder yellow blouse and pleated grey skirt combo. In a hospital. The fact that Vice made a brutal joke about it made me love him even more. Grabe sya oh!!

Rating: ★★★☆☆