CAN’T HELP FALLING IN LOVE (Mae Cruz-Alviar, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Can’t Help Falling in Love:

1. I think it was during the public bathroom scene where Dos (Daniel Padilla) was removing the heels of Gab (Kathryn Bernardo), which must have felt so good because she was having a wild orgasm, that I immediately knew I wouldn’t like this movie. It was clearly trying too hard to wring out laughs by placing its characters in the most absurd situations. That scene was capped off by strangers entering the room and looking disgusted even if it was completely obvious that nothing kinky was going on (hello, his head wasn’t even under her skirt!).

It was a shame really because Daniel and Kathryn were so game all throughout this movie even if the material failed to capitalize on their palpable onscreen chemistry.

2. I had been crowing about Daniel’s natural charms (reminiscent of his uncle Robin’s) in previous movies so the bigger surprise here for me was Kathryn. Not only did she look so fresh and lovely (a vision in yellow during her grand entrance! radiant in black during the wake!), but she also managed to drop most of her annoying acting tics.

Whatever decongestant she took worked because she didn’t sound as oddly nasal as before. She also managed to tone down her pabebe delivery and she was really effective in most of her dramatic scenes (my favorite was her quiet sumbat moment outside the police station; “Nagmahal ka na ba? Minahal ka na ba?”). The only thing left for her to work on would be controlling her eyes because she would resort to unintentionally widening them while speaking (nandidilat for no reason).

Anyway, I just made a mental note to buy Pond’s as soon as the stores open today.

3. As a rule, Star Cinema characters should avoid getting drunk in bars because they would always end up in sticky situations (literally and figuratively?) after. I didn’t buy the ridiculous premise of these two ending up married after a crazy night of partying (hey, this wasn’t Vegas and none of them were Britney; besides, were they carrying all the legal documents that night to get a marriage license issued on the spot?).

None of the succeeding events made a lot of sense as well. I wouldn’t recommend this movie to any of my lawyer friends because their eyes might end up rolling out of their sockets in the scenes where Gab interviewed Dos’ ex-girlfriends to prove his impotence or Gab pretended to make out with her girl friend in Sogo while Dos took pictures of them as proof of homosexuality (they ended up getting arrested after for supposedly creating a porno, wtf?!).

In one scene, Gab dressed up as a taong grasa because she was supposedly baliw sa pag-ibig and insanity was one of the major grounds for annulment. I guess they were to blame for hiring a lawyer from a firm called Hulog ng Langit. (Terrible, terrible screenplay, I tell you.)

4. Did we really need those cameos of Zanjoe Marudo, Ejay Falcon, and Piolo Pascual? Even a bald Daniel Radcliffe made a surprise appearance. Why create unnecessary distractions on an already messy story?

5. Since there was nothing original in this movie, I wasn’t surprised at all that Matteo Guidicelli played the third wheel yet again and that his character (unfortunately named Jason) was villified for being a controlling boyfriend. So basically he loved his girlfriend and supported her for six years even if she only loved him back for security and stability and yet he was the bad guy just for wanting what was best for her. Oh-kay!

Also, they called each other Bud so I guess it was meant to be a friendzone experience right from the start.

6. Of course there would be a reason to go out of town! Destination of choice? Argao, Cebu. A tour of the city’s old churches, cliff diving, coral reef diving, motorcycle rides along the cliffside roads, I was surprised they didn’t use these instead for the channel’s summer station ID.

7. I wish there were more of the small moments that genuinely made me smile (Dos offering a basahan to Gab while she was crying, or Dos distracting Gab with his love notes written on napkins). The scene where Dos was making his huling habilin to his extended family could have easily been milked for laughs and tears, but it just fell short of being great.

I have enjoyed a number of past rom-coms by Direk Mae (Bride for Rent, Everyday I Love You), but she was left with very little to work with here.

8. For every realistically heartfelt line like “Kapag natikman mo pala, nakaka-adik ang umasa”, there were even more empty platitudes like “Mas pipiliin ko ang isang bukas na nandun ka, kesa sa isang milyong bukas na wala ka.”

Ang Babae sa Septic Tank 2: #ForeverIsNotEnough should be required viewing for Star Cinema’s writing team. Seriously.

9. I think I developed an acute case of tinnitus when Gab serenaded Dos with her own version of Panalangin. And that was minutes before his critical brain surgery. Pigain nyo na lang ang apdo ko, but take that portable Magic Sing away from her!!

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

JUST THE 3 OF US (Cathy Garcia-Molina, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Just The 3 Of Us:

1. The movie reminded me so much of this late 90’s rom-com with Matthew Perry as a happy-go-lucky bachelor who had a one night stand with a sultry Salma Hayek in Vegas. She ended up pregnant, they got married, and then discovered each other’s personalities while fixing family and work issues. It was called Fools Rush In and I would have asked you to rent it in a local Video City, but I think all of their stores closed ages ago.

2. In this version though, the girl CJ (Jennylyn Mercado) would rather stalk the potential father and be the emotional punching bag of Uno (John Lloyd Cruz) who had a bad temper (F-words everywhere!), an a-hole attitude (“So what? Buhay ko ‘to. Kahit mag-swimming ako sa alak wala ka pakialam!”), crazy reasoning (he wanted to take care of CJ and the baby, but made her sleep on an uncomfortable sofa bed in the living room with poor ventilation), and a drinking problem that were all supposedly reasonable because of abandonment issues. Hey, he wasn’t named Abusado for nothing.

The fact that Star Cinema was willing to romanticize such an abusive relationship and treat the girl like a lovestruck puppy with a Messiah Complex was just absurd, but then again the flimsy story wasn’t its strongest suit. With a master director of the genre (Cathy Garcia-Molina) and two of the most charming comedic actors in local cinema, how could it not work?

3. Iba pa rin talaga ang charms ni John Lloyd (huge eyebags and all). When CJ said “Nabuntis mo ako dahil diyan sa bwiset na ngiti mo”, I actually believed her. I wouldn’t be surprised if several virgins walked out of the theater pregnant and that Lloydie would be faced with multiple paternity suits nine months from now.

The only thing I couldn’t stand about him was all the heavy drinking that he was required to do. Star Cinema, I already sent a plea way back in A Second Chance. Stop being negative enablers, please!

4. It was a good thing that Liberty Pacific was a fictional airline because the crew’s uniforms were tragic. The light blue and beige combination reminded me of horrible high school memories in Ateneo and I didn’t even attend that school.

5. I could easily understand why Lloydie was the regular Pinoy guy’s hero because he always looked like he last stepped in a gym when Slimmer’s World first opened. On top of that, his contract seemed to require that he show off his daddey bod and have a tween-friendly sex scene. A drunk and stooped over the toilet bowl Jennylyn with Lloydie ready to pump behind her even with a missing condom merited the R-13 rating and that scene was just hilarious.

I did feel a bit uncomfortable since there were a few kids from where I was seated. Surely their parents immediately regretted lying about their age.

6. Uno had to be the saddest bachelor because he only had kitchenware for one (seriously, why would anyone buy one plate and glass? Never expecting guests?). He ate microwaved food every day, stocked his fridge with yoghurt, and couldn’t even take care of a plant. Wait, I think I just described myself. Truly sad.

I also couldn’t understand how he could own a Chopard watch and a really nice SUV, and yet couldn’t afford a decent bed. Unless it was really his choice to just place a mattress on the floor for a zen Japanese effect which I totally respect.

7. Jennylyn has perfected these rom-com roles to a tee. Some jokes probably ended up funnier than intended because her every little reaction or expression just added so much to the scene. My favorites were: a) when she realized that she was already falling for him and had to control her smile, and b) when she treated a wasted Lloydie like a baby, cooing and wiping his mouth while saying “Naku naman ang baby naglungad”. Napakahusay.

She was so adorable that I didn’t mind if she was playing a crazy character who would place all of her used pregnancy test kits on a table (ewwness). The only scene that really fell flat was the airport stalking bit, not only because it made me question airport security but also because a bad wig and huge mole never really looked funny except on a Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo impersonator.

8. You know you’re watching a Lloydie movie because someone will definitely get a terrible headache and give him a chance to prescribe Biogesic with a glass of water. Also, there will be a scene where he hasn’t eaten for days and will be offered a partially consumed Magic Flakes crackers. Bonus na lang yung Western Union product placement.

9. Could someone check on Richard Yap? He seemed to have been replaced by a robot.

10. I really loved CJ’s white sando-wearing clan not only because they were the type that would put a huge tarp sa bayan to inform everyone about a family member’s success (raise your hand if you could relate), but also because they had a really funny mantra (the whole “Dahil lahat tayo Manalo!” bit). The scene where CJ didn’t know how to break the news about her pregnancy to her overeager family delivered the loudest and most genuine laughs (“Positive ba anak?”, “Ilang buwan ang training?” “Nine months po.”).

11. When a drunk Baron Geisler showed up as CJ’s ex, I started to wonder why she had a penchant for alcoholics. Forget being a flight attendant, she should have been a caregiver slash therapist.

12. The kid next door was initially cute and funny until she completely invaded their lives and turned into an unwelcome pet.

(Disclaimer: Being averse to kids and pets does not make me a monster. I’m a good person. Huhuhu.)

13. The final scene with the paper airplanes triggered my OCD and I just wanted to enter the screen, pick them all up, and throw them in the trash. How romantic of me.

P.S. Did they really have to reveal the paternity results? Did they expect viewers to go home in baliw-baliwan mode not knowing if Uno was the real father (even if this was a Star Cinema love story and it was all but a given)? Please.

Rating: ★★★☆☆