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: ALL YOU NEED IS PAG-IBIG (Antoinette Jadaone, 2015)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on All You Need Is Pag-ibig:

1. It’s easy to identify if you’re watching an Antoinette Jadaone romantic-comedy. After the success of That Thing Called Tadhana, almost everything that she has written and/or directed followed a standard template with the usual elements (an animated prologue with a heart, a scene inside a moving vehicle like a bus or a plane, crying scene over the same pares restaurant, lovely out-of-town location, etc.). The only thing different in this movie was the omnibus structure similar to Love Actually.

2. The problem with having a lot of interconnected stories was the limited time being allotted per narrative. The movie also tried to force several unnecessary connections with its characters. Unfortunately, it chose to focus on the weakest and most formulaic love story (sorry KimXi fans), further reducing the screen time of the most interesting ones (the more grown-up A Very Special Love workplace romance of Jodi Sta. Maria and Ian Veneracion, and a variation of 1st Ko Si 3rd’s dying marriage between Nova Villa and Ronaldo Valdez).

3. Kris Aquino played a love guru named Love with her own popular talk slash advice show. Her character suffered a major meltdown on live TV while being interviewed by Boy Abunda. It should be noted that Kris was completely silent during the first few minutes of the said interview (a first on Philippine TV) and that the said meltdown was not triggered by Boy’s imaginary mirror. It should also be noted that in a future scene, Kris could be seen wearing a bikini and that immediately set off my holiday depression.

4. The major source of kilig here came from the Jodi and Ian tandem simply because they were really bagay. There was nothing original in their love story but you couldn’t help but feel all tingly inside with every stolen glance and sweet gesture. Their story alone was worth the price of admission.

Star Cinema, please tell me that they have their own movie coming out soon (preferably without Jodi’s horrendous wig).

5. Coron, Palawan looked gorgeous. If only I were not averse to sunshine, I would have booked a flight already.

6. I have loved Kim Chiu since she discovered her inner comedienne in Bakit Hindi Ka Crush ng Crush Mo. Sometimes she just needed to rein herself in a bit especially since she was matched with the very wooden Xian Lim (perfect for a Machete remake). Every scene with him was just so annoying (no, he was not clap clap POWERFUL!) that I almost went half-bald from tearing my hair out.

7. The Facebook-like page used in one scene showed “View Photo’s”. At this point, I really went bald.

8. A lot of the funny scenes in this movie involved naked actors. Nova Villa brought the house down with her (literally) stripped down performance. A topless Xian with his mismatched face and body skin tones (put down that Chin Chun Su!) made my stomach hurt. And Derek Ramsey running butt naked on the beach wasn’t really funny but the thought that this role was originally given to Herbert Bautista (imagine Bistek’s bum!) made me laugh really hard. May I request that for a possible sequel, please?

Rating: ★★★☆☆