MOVIE REVIEW: ABANDONADA (Joel Lamangan, 2000)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

Bakit nga ba naging masama ang connotation ng salitang “katulong”? Masasabihan ka agad na bastos at matapobre kapag yan ang ginamit mo sa halip na “kasambahay”. Malinaw naman na ang root word nito ay tulong kaya angkop na translation ng house help. Wala naman nakakahiya o nakakababa sa pagtulong. Kapag naririnig ko nga ang salitang kasambahay parang kasama lang sa bahay at walang ginagawa kahit sila talaga ang nagbabanat ng buto araw-araw.

Anyway, naalala ko lang yan kasi pre-woke era pa ang pelikulang ito. Masasabihan ngayon na hindi politically-correct bilang katulong pa ang gamit na salita. Very Pinoy ang drama kasi si Gemma (Maricel Soriano) na nakulong sa Canada at nahiwalay sa kanyang anak ay umuwi ng Pilipinas matapos makalaya at namasukan bilang maid sa mismong bahay ng kanyang asawang si Edwin (Edu Manzano) na kasal na sa ibang babaeng si Cindy (Angelu de Leon). (Nahilo ba kayo slight?)

Maayos naman ang paglalahad ng class distinctions. Sa sobrang laki ng bahay ay bihira magkita ang mga may-ari at mga kasambahay. Advantage ito para kay Gemma kasi hindi siya pwedeng mamukhaan ng demonyo niyang ex (na sa mga flashbacks ay ipinakitang lasenggero at abusive).

Pero dahil nga very Pinoy ang takbo ng kwento, naging conventional sa bandang gitna na umabot sa sampalan, kidnapan, at barilan sa loob ng isang sinehan (na di nalalayo sa ginamit sa Serbis). Nawala ang malinaw na motivations ng mga characters. Parang lahat sila biglang hindi na nag-iisip ng tama.

Sayang kasi ang daming themes na interesting kung natutukan lang. Yung family abandonment issue related sa OFWs, yung subplot ng euthanasia, at kahit yung battered wife syndrome. Very burgis pa ng character ni Cindy kasi after siya bugbugin ng asawa eh naisipan niyang… mag-horseback riding. Yes, basag ang mukha niya pero ang cute ng equestrian outfit niya.

Yan talaga ang hirap kapag hindi mo nakikita ang iyong mga kasama sa bahay. Walang magsasabi na kelangan mo pa dagdagan ang iyong concealer.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: WOKE UP LIKE THIS (Joel Ferrer, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Woke Up Like This:

1. Aside from superhuman strength and the ability to time travel, one of my favorite fantasies was to swap bodies with a (popular) celebrity. I mean, who wouldn’t want to wake up looking like, say, Benjamin Alves? I’d have instant abs without having to cut down on that extra rice. Plus, I really wanted to know how it’d feel like to be ogled at while window shopping in SM Southmall.

Of course a part of that fantasy didn’t involve kissing my twin sister Julie Ann San Jose, because my life really wasn’t an episode of Game of Thrones.

2. I had seen one too many films that dealt with body swapping and this movie directly lifted scenes from most of them.

• Rob Schneider waking up in a silk lingerie and discovering in the bathroom that he lost his bigalow (and fainting afterwards)? Check.

• Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan trying to bump into each other hoping to shake up their souls enough to make them return to their original bodies? Check.

• Athlete Kevin Zegers acting really funny in a game since his body was inhabited by a girl? Check.

• Mean girl Rachel McAdams trying to stop making an expression happen? Check. (Wait, this wasn’t even a body swap movie. Oh well. They even had a scene where the villains were run over by a speeding vehicle. So not fetch.)

The blatant laziness would have been more forgivable if the copied scenes were actually funny, but they just weren’t (unless you find Vhong Navarro as Nando accidentally drinking his own urine hilarious).

3. Most of the jokes here felt really dated, like they came out of late 90’s Regal-early 00’s Star Cinema comedies. It had scenes where family members would always grab the food that Nando was supposed to eat (bakit kasi ayaw nya agad kagatin ang pandesal?), or to fool another character from receiving a kiss, he would point somewhere and say, “Uy, si John Lloyd!”, sabay takbo. And if it wasn’t obvious enough, his bff was Bayani Agbayani, doing the exact same schtick he had been doing since his Otso-Otso days when he would cry and whine like a modern day Bondying.

4. Suspension of disbelief would be a must in this type of comedy, but this one really pushed it to the limit. Family members and friends simply brushed off the apparent gender switch. Nando and Sabrina (Lovi Poe) went on with their normal lives in different bodies. And so we were treated to a makeover montage with Vhong donning different women’s clothes and having his ass crack waxed for a casting call. What?!

This type of craziness would have worked if the characterizations were at least consistent. In one scene, Lovi was taking a dump and Vhong asked, “May tubol?” (there’s absolutely no way that the posh Sabrina would say or even know something like that). In another, Vhong joined a beauty contest and couldn’t walk properly in heels (even in a man’s body, Sabrina would have rocked that runway).

If anything, at least Lovi was really game and felt more committed to her role, whether she was doing Babalu impressions or merely scratching her crotch.

5. Should I blame Serbis for the proliferation of these juvenile exploding pigsa jokes of late? Definitely swearing off anything cream-filled.

6. Too many corny extras in annoying roles. The OA yaya, the basketball commentator with his sock puppet, even the usually campy Dionne Monsanto was just trying way too hard.

7. Another mannequin challenge?! Eek!

8. To quote one of the characters: “Wag mo nga sabihin tae. Sabihin mo poo poo.” Ok, poo poo.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆