THE BABADOOK (Jennifer Kent, 2014)

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Worked as a psychological thriller, failed on supernatural element. Essie Davis was phenomenal.

Wait, why did a top hat-wearing, worm-munching monster become the newest LGBTQ icon? Sure he was dressed like Tito Boy, but which part was supposed to be a metaphor for coming out and being loud and proud? Help!!

Rating: ★★★☆☆

(Originally published September 22, 2014.)

HAUNTED FOREST (Ian Loreños, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Haunted Forest:

1. This movie is shaping up to be one of the worst movies of 2017 so I will just provide a blow-by-blow so that you can all save your money. Obviously, spoilers ahead.

2. So the first twenty minutes consisted of a gagamba running after a taong grasa played by Jerald Napoles. As the resident baliw, he was blamed for the death of a woman hanging from a tree even if obvious naman na hindi niya kaya magpulupot ng thick branches ng puno (can anyone?).

3. Raymart Santiago and his bitchy daughter Jane Oineza went to the province for vacation (or prolly to do some soul-searching) after the death of his cancer-stricken wife. They stayed at the house of Maris Racal and Beverly Salviejo (and it’s a mystery how she’s related to them).

4. All the women in town are fond of wearing white kamison while strolling the haunted forest at night. Yes, this is a Mother Lily-produced movie.

5.

Maris: Di naman ako mahilig sa social media kaya ok lang kahit walang signal sa bahay.

Maris after looking at Jane’s iPhone: Uy, add mo naman ako diyan!!

6. Joey Marquez plays a cop with a habit of hitting suspects at will. I’d like to say that his character’s trapped in a Pinoy 90s sitcom, but he very much seems to fit right in the current police force.

7. Ok, mukhang gorilla yung killer.

8. Sample conflict…

Maris: Naku, naiwan ang bawang! Paano ako maggigisa nito?

9. Sumakay si Jane sa dimples ni Jameson Blake para balikan ang naiwang bawang. Kaso naabutan sila ng malakas na ulan. Walang silong kaya basang-basa sila. Sabay labas si Jameson ng panyo.

Jameson: Eto, punasan na lang kita.

Seryoso??!

10. Kanina umihi sina Joey at Raymart sa gilid ng kalsada. Ngayon naman umiihi si Jane sa damuhan. Eh kaya kayo minumulto kasi di kayo marunong magpasintabi sa mga nuno. Mga bastos!

11. One sequence looked like the director was just having fun with a Snapchat filter. Hihihi!

12. Hirap ng role ni Jane. Her character fainted for the fourth time already. On the other hand, it’s the third time I’m trying not to fall asleep.

13. I probably would have been more scared of Myrtle Sarrosa’s dead character if she didn’t look like she was wearing the wrong shade of foundation and just forgot to brush her hair.

14. So the sitsit was supposed to eat Jane, but changed his mind when he saw Raymart. May sensual wagging of the tongue involved pa. Should we consider this as a step forward for equal representation of the LGBTQ community in local cinema?

15. So ayun na nga dinukot na ng sitsit ang gusto niyang dukutin kay Raymart. Tegi.

16. Everyone knew the tree where the sitsit lived but the townspeople decided to do a prayover around it instead. Nobody bothered to burn or cut it down. Until today.

17.

Jane to sitsit: Hoy! Magpakita kita!

After magpakita…

Everyone: Takbooooooo!!

Tengene.

18. Ayan happy ending na for Jane. Masaya siya kasi kahit napatay ng sitsit ang tatay niya nagka-lovelife naman siya sa probinsiya. Hindi na nga naman masama.

The end. Leche.

19. Ay buti di ako agad umalis. May mid-credits sequence. Buhay pa ang sitsit at lumipat sa katawan ng bangkero. Ready for a sequel kaso mukhang flop. Paano na?

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

(Originally published January 3, 2018.)

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: ★★☆☆☆

HALIK SA HANGIN (Emmanuel Palo, 2015)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Halik sa Hangin:

1. The movie opened with a surprise party that must have been designed to give bit roles to lesser-known Star Magic talents and PBB teen stars. How these kids were able to rent/decorate/reach such place would be one of the movie’s biggest mysteries.

2. The LGBT community should thank Star Cinema for always supporting these gay actors playing straight roles. I suddenly remembered this network war joke that GMA actors were straight guys playing gay roles and ABS actors were the exact opposite. 

3. I was happy to see the return of Ina Raymundo. And then I felt bad for her for being part of this movie.

4. Speaking of gay actors playing straight roles, I think this was John Lapus’ best role to date. He was great as Julia Montes’ father and even played the guitar really well. Good for him!

5. Heard during a Full Moon party scene:

“Yeah party! Whoo ang saya!!”

Seriously, would self-respecting partygoer will say this?

6. Julia to Gerald Anderson: “Ang lamig mo.” His response: “Hindi mainit ka lang.”

Another reason why we should never have a Pinoy Twilight remake.

7. Gerald: “You’re MTB.”

Julia: “Meant to be?”

Gerald: “Meant to break…my heart.”

Koya, eh di MTBMH na yan!!

8. Julia looked really good onscreen. She reminded me a bit of MJ Lastimosa and I kept wondering if she had veneers. Her collaborations with director Emmanuel Palo had all been disastrous. It’s time for a new director. Or probably just better material?

9. In one scene, our heroine arrived using a Vespa. In the next scene, she was shown walking home. It’s The Case of the Disappearing Vespa.

10. Here’s the best line of the movie:

“You made me fall in love with you. You’re so unfair. Shit ka! Hindi ka buhay. Patay ka na! Patay ka na! Anong gusto mo gawin ko tumawid sa kabilang buhay para makasama ka?”

And that kids is why you shouldn’t do drugs.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

(Originally published February 1, 2015.)

KASAL (Ruel Bayani, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Kasal:

1. According to the Urban Dictionary (one of my online sources of truth), the word “triggered” meant getting filled with hate after seeing, hearing, or experiencing something you couldn’t stand. By the end of this completely offensive movie masquerading as an LGBTQ+ advocacy film, you could definitely consider me triggeredt (with the additional t for emphasis, and also as a millennial).

I actually decided to let my emotions simmer down before writing anything but after a full 8 hours of sleep, I was still feeling the exact same thing. Who were the bright minds behind this monstrosity??!

2. Anybody who had seen the teaser/trailer would already have an inkling on the much-hyped twist here. If you guessed that Philip (Paulo Avelino) and Wado (Derek Ramsay) were previously lovers and their entire history would be the major cause of drama prior to the wedding with Lia (Bea Alonzo), then you had a much better story right there.

The only twist here wasn’t exactly a twist. Philip was just secretly gay. Yun na yun. Now that would have been fine if only the movie had the thoughtfulness to handle such a topic. Shown after the heels of the critically-adored Love, Simon, one would expect that homosexuality would no longer be used as a regressive plot device and that serious topics like coming out would be handled with the required sensitivity. But no, this was a Star Cinema movie where a gay lead character would actually identify as bisexual because heaven forbid it would end without a happy couple walking out of the church very much in love.

3. Did I mention that Wado was the straight ex of Lia and part of his plan to win her back and break up her engagement with Philip was to blackmail the latter by playing footsies with him and using a seduction video of them in the shower (complete with an ominous, slightly porn-ish musical score)? Huh?? Seryoso? Wouldn’t Lia even question why Wado was also making out with another guy? In the shower??

Even worse, the video showed Wado physically and sexually assaulting Philip! How could that possibly work in his favor? That was obviously just another stunt to get two heterosexual local actors kiss (oh, how brave!). And no, Paulo’s upper-half butt exposure was not enough to appease me.

(Side note: A couple of women next to me were loudly screaming “Yuck!” during the entire sequence. I hope that was their reaction at the apparent foolishness of the movie and not at the sight of two men kissing because, c’mon guys, it’s 2018!)

4. But wait, I hadn’t even touched on the worst scene in this awful mess. After Philip’s (who was running for mayor) secret was revealed in public, Lia confronted him and said something like “Ang tatay ko transgender. Ang fiancé ko bisexual. Konti na lang mabubuo ko na ang LGBTQ!”. Please note that Philip in this supposedly emotional scene was just outed without his consent and had a bloodied face after a scuffle with Wado and the entire cinema was howling with laughter because of that dialogue.

And then Lia backtracked by saying that she wasn’t really mad about his sexuality, but at the deception and lies that she had been experiencing all her life. I was so happy you corrected yourself and made it all about you, girl! Confetti and glitter for you!

5. Since Lia was such an endearing and selfless character, here are my words of advice for her: 1) never wear white pants when doing an ocular visit in a dusty location, 2) learn to listen every once in a while and stop these empty declarations (“Don’t you ever speak to me about pain again!”, “Sino ka para sabihin sa akin kung anong gagawin sa buhay ko?”), and 3) if your wet armpits had always been an issue in previous relationships, there are several deodorants and anti-perspirants in the market to choose from (I can attest to the miraculous powers of Arm & Hammer).

6. I was surprised this wasn’t made into a teleserye since most of the characters seemed to be plucked from local soap operas:

• Philip’s controlling mother (Cherie Gil) to blushing bride-to-be Lia: “I was supposed to let you wear my custom-made Oscar dela Renta wedding gown. Of course, I was slimmer then, baka hindi magkasya.”

• Domineering father (Christopher de Leon, with flaring nostrils as always) to his wimpy, disappointing son Philip: “If only your brother Andrew did not die in that accident!”

• Olivia Papa in her signature white blazer (Cris Villonco): “!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” (Basta laging galit at sumisigaw.)

• Lia’s realizations after getting her heart broken by a bisexual: “Now I know that marriage is not just one big event. It’s a choice that you make every single day.”

Jusko, not even Primetime Bida levels! More of Kapamilya Gold. With another Moira dela Torre theme song. Bagong-bago! Itigil ang kasal!!

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

ANG DALAWANG MRS. REYES (Jun Lana, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Ang Dalawang Mrs. Reyes:

1. In Netflix’s Grace and Frankie, the titular characters played by Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin were two oldish women that bonded together after the devastating discovery that their husbands were gay (and actually lovers). Although they initially wanted to break them apart, the series became less about their planned revenge and focused more on how they learned to accept the truth. It was a delightful comedy filled with interesting insights regarding the gay community and the people that surrounded them.

The same could be said about this latest offering from Star Cinema. Although it struggled a bit to find the right balance of comedy (went too broad for my taste) and drama (considering its serious themes), it was still a fun watch. By the end of the movie, I really wanted to see more of Lianne (Judy Ann Santos) and Cindy (Angelica Panganiban). Would they still fall for gay men? Would they have a deeper understanding of homosexuality? What if Lianne’s daughter Macy (Andrea Brillantes) came out as a lesbian?

Dear ABS-CBN, please give them the comedy series that they deserve.

2. Juday is Juday is Juday. Whether she was wiggling her newly-refurbished boobies or delivering a hazy rant while heavily-anesthesized, she was a complete hoot and basically nailed every scene that she was in.

In one of the best sequences, she skirted on the question if something happened between them and macho dancer with a heart of gold Steve (Nico Antonio) to which he replied, “Hindi ko po kayo pinagsamantalahan kasi parang tiyahin ko na rin po kayo”. It was already a hilarious moment made funnier when Juday simply quipped, “Gago ka pala eh sana pinagsamantalahan mo na lang kami.”

I was also happy to see that she still had an abundant supply of tears. It wasn’t hard to forgive her character’s vindictiveness since one could clearly see and feel her pain caused by her husband’s deception.

(Because of this reason, I chose to ignore the fact that a top cosmetics executive like her would serve Goldilocks pastries in a classy private event.)

3. On face value, I wouldn’t have thought that Gary (Joross Gamboa) was gay as well. Sure, he fainted upon seeing his wife floating in a pool of blood, but it could just have been hemophobia. Besides, no self-respecting gay person outside of Ru Paul’s back-up dancers would wear his blazer and khaki shorts combo for a yacht cruise.

Fresh from his Deadma Walking stint, it would be easy to assume that Joross was essentially playing the same role so it was a testament to his acting skills that he was able to differentiate Gary from John. He had a scene in Ma Mon Luk where his emotions shifted from guilt to sarcasm (“Gusto keteng sekten, gusto keteng peteyen…”) to regret to optimism in seconds and it was just a terrific performance.

(I had never been to Ma Mon Luk in Quiapo, but I would love to visit that place, if I could get a seat.)

4. For Jeannie Mai, yellow may be the color of joy and celebration, but I really think that it should be pink. I loved the abundance of that color here and every pink item (the envelope with the farewell note, the cat cage of Mimi, the highlighter used by Cindy) made my heart really happy.

5. Speaking of the farewell note, I couldn’t understand the lengthy sequence of Cindy taking an entire day to read what looked like a ten-page letter. Ganun ba sya kabagal magbasa (considering that her husband’s revelation of being gay was clearly on the first page)?

I was reminded of this other movie called Lila where Janine Gutierrez took a year to finish reading a haunted diary. Totoo ba?

6. I guess that was my other concern about this movie. Jun Lana had always been technically proficient in terms of staging his scenes. There was a natural rhythm in them and you would rarely see any abrupt transitions. This had one too many of them that would just end and shift to another unrelated sequence.

When the parents of Felix (JC de Vera) crashed his housewarming party, it ended with a friend (Kim Molina) saying that she was a babaeng bakla. The joke not only fell flat, but ended a scene that needed to be seen. Sadly, it was only mentioned in passing during the next one, the consequences and repercussions of that confrontation never fully discussed.

7. Oh, Mimi was the name of Felix’s cat. I bet all of my Sarah Geronimo autographed CDs that he also had an entire collection of Mariah Carey albums. (And sang Through the Rain in the shower, naturally.)

8. I really thought that Angelica could do this in her sleep, but she just wasn’t given enough funny material to work with. That Catwoman bit wasn’t as hilarious as Maricel Soriano’s in I Will Survive and her constant showdowns with Carmi Martin felt childish and really off-character. She even played second fiddle to Juday when she should have been very much her equal. At least she delivered in that cunnilingus scene that ended with a really silly meow.

9. JC de Vera felt lost in his role and sounded like he was in an elocution contest. Where was the sensitive actor that was so good in Best Partee Ever?

Fortunately, he wasn’t the most annoying character in the movie. I wasn’t sure how Quark Henares ended up with that private investigator role, but he might want to do the exact opposite of Joel Lamangan and stay behind the camera.

10. Juday referring to her boobs as Mara and Clara gave me so much life. Also, her takedown of Winnie the Pooh made me snort Pepsi out of my nostrils (“Pucha sinabi ng bear yun?”).

11. “How can I be homophobic? I have colleagues that are gay. Strong supporter ako ng LGBT community.” Definitely ripe for a teaching moment. But seriously, I wonder how women would really react if they found out that their boyfriends or husbands were gay? How would they cope with the said reality? Friends with the same experiences, time to share.

12. “Kung hindi pechay ko ang problema, anong problema natin?”

“I just don’t see myself growing old with you.”

Saklap. Hay.

13. By the way, pechay was translated as oysters in the subtitles. Was tahong too graphic for our imagination? And since we’re on the topic, after the screening, this group of women started loudly discussing what they would do if they found out that their husbands were gay. One of them said, “Ako, magpapalago ng pechay!”.

Ate, what did that even mean? Still, natakot ako ng slight at the thought of it.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

SANA’Y WALA NANG WAKAS (Leroy Salvador, 1986)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Sana’y Wala Nang Wakas:

1. Even before the classic Pinoy LGBTQ film Do Re Mi manifested the power of female camaraderie through musical numbers, there was this movie in the late 80’s (probably inspired by the Broadway musical Dreamgirls) that showcased the value of friendship.

If it weren’t obvious enough, the girl group composed of Bianca Eleazar (Sharon Cuneta), Monique Verzosa (Cherie Gil), and Michelle Williams, er, Camille Gonzaga (Dina Bonnevie) was actually named “Friends” and their go-to song was “That’s What Friends Are For” (sung during the opening scene while they wore shiny, silky costumes with gigantic ribbons on the chest area, probably borrowed from the Boyoyong clowns).

Also, Sharon sported a female mullet. Let that sink in.

2. There was one incredibly long montage (worth one full song, I think) where Bianca and Teddy (Tonton Gutierrez, terrible in an Aljur Abrenica way) toured Luzon and it could have been used as a tourist ad for the Philippines (Have some buko juice in Tagaytay! Jet ski in Taal Lake!).

At one point, Teddy dove head first in a shallow pond to get a lotus flower. I thought he was trying to catch a frog, but then it wouldn’t match with Bianca’s ever-changing ribbons on her ponytail.

Naudlot pa ang first kiss nila nang biglang dumating ang order nila na…Pepsi! (We would always complain about product placements in today’s films, but apparently it had been shamelessly done even before. This one also had blatant shills for Master Sardines and Silver Swan Soy Sauce.)

3. It was sad to see the late Dindo Fernando again here, especially since he was one of the finest actors in local cinema that was gone too soon. As Bianca’s father slash music composer, he brought a lot of depth in his character who was prone to making silly decisions.

Upon learning that he had terminal cancer, he did some soul-searching by walking the entire stretch of Manila Bay. He also abandoned his family because he didn’t want to be a pabigat for them, but ultimately returned home for one last deathbed duet. (By the way, this scene was so effective that I was a blubbering mess when it ended. Galing din ni Ate Shawie dito.)

4. As expected, jealousy and fame were the reasons for the group’s eventual break-up. I would have guessed that it was actually Dina’s singing voice because she just sounded awful (refer to Barbie Forteza’s viral video).

There was a scene where Camille was singing drunk and another one where she was warbling while sobbing uncontrollably and she didn’t sound any different from her supposedly better days. She more than made up for it in acting though because I really loved the scene where she started throwing beer bottles at her gay BFF Manny Castaneda.

5. Sample dialogue…

• Teddy being defiant to his overbearing father: “Pigain mo man ako, di mo mapipiga ang musika sa buhay ko!” (Nux!!)

• Teddy’s matapobre father to Bianca: “Magkano ang kelangan mo para layuan ang anak ko?”

Bianca with matching flaring nostrils: “Magkano ang kaya nyong ibayad? Bilhin nyo sya ng pera nyo. Bibilhin ko sya ng pag ibig ko!” (Applause! Standing ovation!!)

6. Burning questions:

• If Bianca was so famous that she was being mobbed by fans, why did she take a cab during her walk-out scene?

• How did Bianca and Monique become huge recording stars if most of their songs were remakes? Greatest Love of All vs Through the Fire? (Sabagay, diamond artist si Nina.)

• What happened to breach of contract? How could Monique miss the farewell concert of the group and get away with it? And did Bianca really have to sing Part-Time Lover (with matching luha) after seeing Camille and Teddy kiss?

• Hindi pa ba uso ang aircon noon? Bakit ang nasa loob ng dressing room nila ay isang malaking electric fan?

7. It was so funny how all the conflicts were magically resolved during the final musical number of Bianca. In this scene, the song composed by her dearly-departed dad won the top prize in a music festival that suddenly turned into her concert, complete with surprise appearances by Monique and Camille.

Friendship was restored, a marriage proposal was done, and Manny Castaneda remained a faithful alalay.

Never, ever question the power of a Willy Cruz song.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

THE SUPER PARENTAL GUARDIANS (Joyce Bernal, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on The Super Parental Guardians:

1. When it was first announced that Joyce Bernal would be taking over the reins of the late Wenn Deramas in the newest Vice Ganda MMFF entry, I felt excited and hopeful that the new combo would bring something new and fresh to the Pinoy comedy genre. Sadly, this movie basically recycled every single joke and gag that worked in previous Deramas-Ganda collaborations slash blockbusters (beating a dead horse? wink, wink).

It actually felt like Vice commandeered the entire thing (he even received an “Additional Scenes and Dialogue” credit), not wanting to change anything that he perceived wasn’t broken (or in his own words, “quality”). The result was a disappointing rehash, no different from eating last night’s cold leftover pizza.

2. Sample checklist for reference:

• Outrageous outfits – In one scene, he wore a rejected ribbon dress from the Lady Gaga collection that would obviously be unwound in a succeeding scene (because seeing Vice in a black leotard was supposedly funny). Oh, and the punchline was that he was advised to dress for the occasion and the said event was a ribbon-cutting. (Wenk, wenk.)

In another, he attended a funeral wearing a costume with a matching headdress that made me want to do the Shigi Shigi dance from Shaider.

• Word(name)plays – Remember the restaurant scene in Beauty and the Bestie where they joked about looking like Bea Bunda and Liza Lorena? Here, they had a Kath Tonying Taberna, Liza de Lima, Nadine Munyoka, and Arci Taulava. How about the “Ang bata na-bonjour” joke in Praybeyt Benjamin? This time it was “Ang bata nalaglag” in a terribly unfunny “miscarriage” gag.

• Sidekick slapping and insults – Now he had Kiray to slap as well. And of course there were several pockmarked face jokes.

• Game of the year – Ooh, Vice wearing an Ash costume while collecting pokeballs from a spinning pokestop. How current! Except that Pokemon Go mania died a couple of months ago.

• Duet – The Hold On sing-off was a highlight in BatB so they obviously needed to do it again here (this time with Coco Martin singing his heart out to “Kung wala ka nang maintindihaaaaan…”, one of the possibly three times that I actually laughed throughout the entire movie).

• Pinoy films homage – This was a staple in Deramas movies because you could feel his obvious love for them. Here, they just needed to include a bit from Minsan Lang Kita Iibigin because, well, just because.

3. Why wasn’t this called Ang Probinsyano the Movie? It really wasn’t any different from the series (down to the repetitive Wag Ka Nang Umiyak gag), except that Coco looked like a deranged Harley Quinn who was late for the Valkyrie Halloween party.

Also, what were all of those mini-explosions in the slums fight sequence? If this were New Year’s Eve, the best term to describe them would be “supot”.

4. I found it really weird that a strong proponent of LGBTQ rights would subject his character to the stereotypical perception of gays to generate laughs. One with him quivering in seeing topless construction workers, or him acting like a sexual predator to a drunk straight man (sinukahan na, kinilig pa rin), or him giving all of his cash to a tormentor simply because he looked good.

In a year when other films (The Third Party, Bakit Lahat ng Gwapo May Boyfriend?, Working Beks) tried to change how gay characters were portrayed in Philippine cinema, this one seemed to be contented with them being the laughing stock of society.

5. Onyok Pineda wasn’t as funny here compared to his stint in Ang Probinsyano where his genuine reactions to a closeted friend were comedy gold. He did have one cute scene that worked (“Kuya pangkain lang po. Ganern!”), but he was clearly overshadowed by Awra Briguela.

I wish they gave Awra more to do than the endless showdowns with Vice. His funniest moments to me were when he wasn’t even trying (just him sharply enunciating “freshly picked tomatoes” had me giggling in my seat). I also couldn’t stand all the physical abuse that he received from Vice (that sabunot scene would have been funny in the ’90s before the launch of Bantay Bata).

6. As expected, there were mini-commercials for Gluta-C, King Cup sardines, and even (gasp!) Pigrolac?!

7. Matet de Leon’s character here was addicted to balut, which shouldn’t come as a surprise because her sister in real-life is Balot. (If you got that reference, then you’re way too old.)

8. Although most of the corny jokes failed (that low batt modelling sequence, the used hanky scene, the Ilonggo-maskara bit, the Train to “Boosan” gag, the Baron vs Matos fight), there was one that really made me laugh. It involved Vice getting thrown in all directions for a Family Day dance number and his resulting expressions were just too funny. We needed more of these and less of the out-of-the-blue Leila de Lima impersonations.

9. “Bakit di nila tayo isinama sa filmfest? Itong mga batang ito ata ang malas!” Nope, definitely not their fault.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆