THE BOY NEXT DOOR (Rob Cohen, 2015)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on The Boy Next Door:

1. The first few scenes reminded me so much of Enough that this could actually have worked as a sequel to that other trashy guilty pleasure. I was surprised Ashley Judd didn’t star in this one.

2. What happened to Kristin Chenoweth? Her unforgiving haircut and old vice-principal face was so far from the cutesy characters she played in Pushing Daisies and Wicked. She had the (relatively) best lines in the movie, though.

3. In one scene, J.Lo kept peeking at the naked young boy next door. Didn’t that make her the predator? Shouldn’t this be The MILF Next Door?

4. A man went out on a date with J.Lo and he still kept glancing at other women. Seriously, was there any man (straight or otherwise) who’d still have the nerve to look elsewhere if Jenny from the Block was seated right in front of him?

5. That sex scene. Ohmy! Worth the price of admission. Sorry not sorry. (FYI, Rob Cohen also directed The Fast and the Furious.)

6. I thought that I had seen the worst when John Travolta stabbed Uma Thurman’s chest with a syringe in Pulp Fiction. And then I saw the epi pen scene in this movie. I almost fainted in my seat.

7. If anything, this movie should serve as a warning to ladies everywhere to check every nook and cranny for hidden cameras before engaging in hot, steamy sex. Unless you wanted to be the next (starlet name deleted due to cybercrime law).

8. The script was obviously written by a woman because the female teacher slept with her male student and the student was supposed to be the bad guy. In comparison, Starting Over Again was written by a woman and it was about a male teacher who slept with his female student and it was supposed to be romantic. Ladies, we need to talk.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published February 4, 2015.)

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THE HOWS OF US (Cathy Garcia-Molina, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on The Hows of Us:

1. If you’re an old soul (read: an oldie afraid to admit that he’s beyond his prime) like me, you probably have downloaded and played Homescapes (currently ranked #73 in the Apple App Store) where your goal was to build this dream house and decorate it with all types of furniture. The first five minutes of this movie reminded me so much of that game, with George (Kathryn Bernardo) and Primo (Daniel Padilla) providing the voiceover while they selected the perfect couch for their living room. That scene culminated in a huge shouting match that signalled the end of their relationship before transitioning to a split screen sequence that was completely lifted from Kalyeserye (I swear I could hear an instrumental version of Rey Valera’s Kahit Maputi na ang Buhok Ko in the background, a song I have associated with AlDub ever since I died of kilig from their McDonald’s commercial heydays). And then it turned into a Mannequin Challenge with the camera moving around while the pair pretended to be serious contenders in a game of stop dance. Wait, were they aiming to do a recap of pop culture references for this decade?

2. I honestly expected this to be KathNiel’s response to the critical success of JaDine’s Never Not Love You, but it simply lacked the depth and maturity (in terms of characters and story) needed to display their growth as artists (insert that meme of Tyra Banks screaming “I was rooting for you! We were all rooting for you!!”).

Hearing Kathryn utter the word “Putangina!” repeatedly just wasn’t enough, especially if you would consider a Miss Granny like Sarah Geronimo saying vulgar words like “puke” and “hindot” in her most recent film. While their screen rivals tackled weighty themes like long distance relationships and adult responsibilities, the biggest conflict in this movie was whether George should continue with her jeepney ride to take her med school exam or scream “para!” to get down and help a drunk Primo who was slumped on the road. These were supposed to be real people problems? Seryoso?

Side note: I guess it spoke a lot about the maturity of these characters that the fans still shrieked their lungs out every time the lovebirds kissed.

3. Dear Star Cinema, wasn’t it too early to start recycling elements from your recent hits? There were so many things here that reminded me so much of Starting Over Again from George’s line of “In him, I saw a good man…” to that supposedly sensual flirtation reminiscent of Toni Gonzaga’s stepladder scene down to that drunk rant of George with her gay BFF (Juan Miguel Severo) that never reached the comedic heights of Beauty Gonzalez’s “Yang hope na yan, lason yan” moment. I’m sure you have a strong pool of writers. Wala na bang bago? (As in Susan Africa played a Tita Lola role and ended up dead after a few scenes.)

4. If anything, Kathryn looked so gorgeous here (with or without her EO Optical contacts) and I’d have to commend her for making the most out of her thinly-written character. She only had one off moment when she was required to overact like crazy in that “Pagod na pagod na pagod na ako!” scene. Otherwise, she was actually good in her dramatic scenes (even if she played a selfish girlfriend required to say lines like “Wala kang pambili kahit cupcake man lang para sa akin?”) and was even better during the (abruptly) comedic second half. She seemed headed back to her glorious Magkaribal/Mara Clara days. Really happy for her!!

And no amount of Daniel sporting a horrible mullet and looking like a deranged version of Lady Diane (“Sa-sa-Saddami ng problema natin!”) minimized the fact that this tandem could still deliver the requisite kiligs. My favorite moment had to be that cringey-sweet hugot of Primo: “Matagal na naman akong talo eh simula nung hinayaan kong mawala ka”. Awww!

(P.S. Ang galing na nila umarte pareho. Please give them the movie that they deserve!!)

5. I had seen the entire filmography of Maricel Soriano so I know that that entire splitting of the house with masking tape gag was already done with much better results in Kung Kaya Mo, Kaya Ko Rin! (and yes, it was also just copied from a much earlier film with Dolphy and Nida Blanca or some other Philippine Cinema legends that I was too lazy to Google). If I remembered it correctly, there was also a scene where Cesar Montano played his guitar and tried to win back Maricel through a harana. And when Maricel’s BFF Ruby Rodriguez decided to visit the house, she had to drag her over to her side because the rest of the space was off-limits. All of those exact same scenes were in this movie. Again, wala na bang bago?

6. In one clunky scene, George and Primo were selling their “conjugal” ancestral home to a potential buyer (Odette Khan) and after stating that it really didn’t have much value, Primo countered that it did have a lot of history and special memories, thus making it priceless. And I kept thinking, “Totoo ba? Ano naman paki ng buyer sa memories na yan?” so I was really surprised when she instead replied with “I like it! Eto na ang pera!” Huwaaaat?

7. Real jokes delivered while the lovebirds biked around Amsterdam:

• “Bakit ang daming nag-ba-bike dito?” “Eh bike-it naman hindi?”

• “Anong instrumento ang favorite sa Amsterdam?” “Eh di Amsterdrums!”

• “Ano ang favorite pet sa Amsterdam?” “Eh di Hamsterdam!”

• “Ano ang paboritong kainin sa Amsterdam?” “Eh di Hamsterdam and Cheese!”

Should I continue? AMSTERDAMMIT!!

8. “Sana samahan mo pa rin ako in finding out the answers to all the hows.” Hahahaha! Naipilit pa rin ang title.

But seriously, after My Ex and Whys and The Hows of Us, I wonder if Star Cinema still has plans of using the remaining 4W’s. Who Who Belles? What’s Upon a Time? Ready to Where? When Dramas? Oh, too punny!!

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

LAST NIGHT (Joyce Bernal, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Last Night:

1. Let me begin with an erratum on a glaring boo boo that I made when I posted my notes on Love You to the Stars and Back. I incorrectly identified the character of Julia Barretto as Carmina Salvador since I actually saw Last Night’s trailer prior to that movie.

Whether it was cinema fatigue or my inner cinephile that went bonkers upon hearing that film reference (that was the same name of Dawn Zulueta’s character in Hihintayin Kita sa Langit), I would like to apologize for the confusion that it caused especially to all the JoshLia fans that lost sleep over that inaccurate trivia.

2. We first see the real Carmina Salvador (Toni Gonzaga) dangling from a billboard on the side of the Jones Bridge after a botched suicide attempt. Her cry for help was noticed by Mark Peters (Piolo Pascual), who was also on a suicide mission at the said bridge. (Side note: Is this really a popular destination for depressed people in the Binondo/Ermita area? I’m really curious to know how many suicide cases have happened here within the last decade. Google wasn’t really helpful.) Anyway, they ended up helping one another and in the process also fell madly in love with each other. The end.

Well, not really. Of course there had to be a big twist because the screenplay seemed to have been built around that gimmick. In a reveal that would make M. Night Shyamalan curl up in a fetal position, Carmina actually turned out to be a ghost (she died in 1973 during Martial Law; naks, relevant!) that only appeared before Mark. Yes, he could see dead people (well, one dead person in the beginning and a few more towards the end of the movie). Eek!

3. I really wish the movie didn’t rely too much on the (obvious) twist so that it didn’t have to spend its final 30 minutes explaining everything (in washed-out flashbacks!) and feeling smart on how much it was able to fool the audience.

Aside from The Sixth Sense, most of the scenes that had Mark interacting with Carmina reminded me a lot of the “I Love You, Moo Moo” episode of the 90’s movie Tatlong Mukha ng Pag-ibig. My favorite scene there was when Tonton Gutierrez carried the ghost of his dead wife (played by Sharon Cuneta) inside their honeymoon suite while the caretaker (Leroy Salvador) watched in horror as his crazy amo flirted with an imaginary entity. I actually wondered if that straightforward format that wasn’t reliant on a twist would have made the story here much better (and less cornier).

Also, I’d actually need help in remembering another Hollywood/foreign movie about a living human being that communicated and fell in love with the spirit of a deceased person (something like Just Like Heaven, but not really). I wouldn’t want to be up for the next few nights.

4. Thirteen Reasons Why received a lot of flak for apparently romanticizing suicide and I kinda understood that perspective when I watched Mark and Carmina play cutesy with a blow dryer while they were inside a tub. Or when they fantasized on placing an aircon and a mattress on their backs before diving in a pool. Or when Carmina suggested “maligo sa dinuguan at magpakain sa shark” (huh?).

This made the shift in tone during the latter part of the movie even more jarring when it suddenly turned pro-life and started spreading a message of optimism and hope. All that was lacking in that final bubblegum bridge sequence was a dancing unicorn.

5. I was a huge fan of the Toni-Piolo pairing in Starting Over Again so I was a bit surprised at how much I was turned off by their performances here. Toni had her quirkiness turned up to its maximum level and she kept shouting her lines like she was still hosting Pinoy Big Brother (“Hello Philippines! Hello world!!”).

Piolo fared much better (as he was required to go topless yet again and shamelessly showed off his abs twice!), but he spent most of his scenes brooding and acting really stuck-up. Sayang, because I really missed this fun partnership.

6. At least the technical aspects were really commendable. Before Cathy Garcia-Molina, I think Joyce Bernal was the queen of rom-coms and she really tried to make the most out of the weak story here.

The movie also looked really good, very much like a glossy maindie. I also loved the song choices (except for one that sounded like it had Piolo singing).

7. I couldn’t get over the fact that Toni was the twin of Joey Marquez. And that Joey was named Ricardo Reyes. Yes, Ricky Reyes! Bwahahahaha!

Also, Carmina (whose real name’s Jennifer, btw) was actually a smart entrepreneur and influencer for bringing her new living friends to their family restaurant every single time. Shouldn’t it have been time for her to start a Twitter or Instagram account, though?

8. Burning questions:

• Why did an old soul like Carmina sound very much like a millennial? Also, why did she keep acting like she didn’t know that she was already dead? Diba audience lang naman may hindi alam?

• If she really wanted to prevent Mark from committing suicide, why did they spend most of their time trying to figure out how to die together? Did she only realize that after she fell in love with him?

• Did they play Bloody Crayons in one scene as a cross-promotion for Star Cinema movies?

• If nobody could see her, why didn’t anyone (except for the friend of dying lola) even ask who Mark was talking to? More chismis, more fun lang?

• Why did she kill herself after just seeing blood on the side of Jones Bridge (sure, her boyfriend was supposed to be there, so she automatically assumed that the blood was his)? Why, gurl, why?

• Paano sila maghihintayan sa langit if she’s stuck in limbo?

• If Carmina killed herself during Martial Law, why was her brother played by Patrick Sugui (shouldn’t he be like 40ish) and her mother was the still youthful Marina Benipayo? Were they also ghosts? Then why couldn’t they all see each other? Or was Patrick supposed to be the young Joey Marquez? Help!!

• Bakit kapag si Piolo ang nagsasabi ng “nangulangot” parang classy and sexy pa rin? Huhuhu!

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

MISS YOU LIKE CRAZY (Cathy Garcia-Molina, 2010)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Miss You Like Crazy:

1. In our province of Batangas back in the late 80’s/early 90’s, we had not been introduced yet to a loofah so we would use these pumice rocks (also known as panghilod) while bathing (usually in a batis) to scrape off all the dirt and grime from our skins.

They were all I could think of whenever Mia (Bea Alonzo) would leave signed copies of panghilod basically everywhere. More than sayang, I felt really bad imagining such a lovely girl all covered with so much libag.

(Tita Tip of the Day: Forget all the exfoliants in Lush. Grab a rock from your garden, use it in the shower, and wash all of your problems away.)

2. John Lloyd Cruz (as Alan) still wore these long and baggy pants in the movie so this was obviously during his pre-Liz Uy days.

Now his trousers all look so tight like he doesn’t want to have kids and they’re always cropped at least two inches above the ankle (read: bitin and/or baston) like he’s auditioning for the role of Bilbo Baggins in a local version of the Lord of the Rings.

(Yes, inggit lang ako kasi hindi ako fashyown.)

3. This love story relied too much on serendipity. It was the kind of movie where two random vehicles would end up next to each other in traffic because the fated lovers were meant to have a Tutuban Mall date (sorry, it was done much better in Minsan, Minahal Kita).

Years later, they would bump into each other in a hotel in Malaysia because, well, destiny.

Seriously, Lolo Uly (Noel Trinidad) and his magical prediction essentially told the entire plot during the movie’s 30-minute mark. The remaining one and a half hours was completely unnecessary (and very bagot because the movie actually felt like three hours).

4. Since this was a Cathy Garcia-Molina flick, somebody had to wear her trademark wigs. Poor Maricar Reyes (as Alan’s girlfriend Daphne) had to sport a hairstyle that was a cross between a mullet and a pixie cut and made her look like she just recovered from a heavy bout of typhoid fever.

Also, why was she portrayed as a villain just because she didn’t find the idea of a Pasig River cruise romantic? Anak ng Pasig naman ang pagiging anti-elitista dito.

Even worse, in a succeeding scene where Alan explained to Mia that Divisoria briefs were not good fixed assets (pati underwear investment na din?), he was just giving sound advice. Why the double standard? Pfft!!

5. “Alan ba talaga ang pangalan mo? Bakit ka lingon nang lingon sa August?”

Dear, whenever somebody shouts a name (any name for that matter) in a crowded place, expect people to look. I’m sure everyone would be curious to know who that crazy screaming woman was.

6. So Alan’s fridge was stocked with microwave-ready food like filet mignon, garlic mashed potatoes, cordon bleu, fettucine alfredo, and chicken rosemary, but he chose to eat…Greenwich pizza, of course!!

7. Sex on the stairs. Ang sakit siguro sa likod nun. I wasn’t surprised that Mia was crying after Alan climaxed twenty seconds later.

8. Paco Park should get secondary billing in future Star Cinema movies as the ultimate love destination (also seen in Starting Over Again, Barcelona, and even Dolce Amore). Still single? You know where to go.

9. Maswerte yung Malaysian version ni Paolo Bediones ha. Nakarami ng halik kay Bea infer.

10. In one scene, Mia had this huge stain on the vajayjay area of her dress so it looked like she peed herself. In another scene, Ryan Eigenmann’s entire forehead looked sunburnt.

Poor production values or were they also destined to be that way?

11. “Fate only gives us one chance to get it right.”

Hindi totoo yan dahil may sequel pa nga ang One More Chance.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

I’M DRUNK, I LOVE YOU. (JP Habac, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on I’m Drunk, I Love You.:

1. I recently read this Cosmo online article about the glorification of the Nice Guy syndrome in the Jollibee Vow ad. It basically stated that the said Nice Guy was actually a toxic idiot who often presented himself as the sacrificing fool to garner his female object of desire’s (and the world’s) sympathies. To a certain extent, it could also apply to a Nice Girl or Nice Gay or anybody who constantly depicted themselves as the kawawa party for being friendzoned.

This was the reason why I didn’t really feel all that bad for Carson (Maja Salvador) who had been salivating over her BFF Dio (Paulo Avelino) for more than seven years. She chose to go (literally) gaga over him even if he never really showed any interest in her other than as a friend. She answered his every beck and call even if it would usually be something petty like choosing the perfect pair of socks to wear (“Gusto ko ng input mo as a friend”). She showed incredible devotion and made personal sacrifices in the hopes that one day he would be able to reciprocate her feelings.

In short, everything was her fault and she chose to be tanga sa pag-ibig. If I were her friend, the only advice she would be getting from me would be a huge Maricel Soriano bitch-slap on her face (I’m judgmental like that).

2. Besides, I couldn’t really see anything nice or good or redeeming about Dio except that he looked like Paulo Avelino. When Carson professed her love and he reacted with a pity kiss, he was even being less of a friend and more of a jerk.

I suddenly remembered my past life when a friend wanted to drown herself along the malumot beach of Puerto Galera because I told her I couldn’t force myself to love her back. Brutal, yes, but at least I wasn’t being paasa. (And I think everyone would agree that aside from greedy taxi drivers and corrupt politicians, the paasas were the ultimate vermins of this earth).

3. Even with two major characters that deserved pag-untugin and a flimsy plot that didn’t really merit a full-length feature, this movie still had loads of charm coming from its actors and enough funny moments that carried it through.

Most of the credit should definitely go to Maja for simply being a believable and flawed lovesick puppy. I wouldn’t be surprised if she was actually just playing a modified, less glamorous version of her real self. Whenever she would say something like umebak (or an equally jologs-sounding word), it just felt natural and made her character a bit more endearing. And surprise, she did have an ebak scene here.

My favorite bit was when Dio told Carson, “Relax lang, yang puso mo” and she answered with “Nasa ‘yo” and immediately took it back with “Lalalalalalala charot lang expectorant”. It felt so spontaneous and incredibly sad and reminded me that I was watching an Urian winner.

4. I really liked the scene where Carson used her iPod like a Magic 8 ball with her asking questions and letting random songs provide the answer. Inasmuch as I loved and supported OPM though, I still wished that the songs used were a bit more relatable (not even one commercial Tagalog or foreign song on her playlist? I know, I know, the rights would have cost a lot of money, but I’m 100% sure she would have had Salbakuta’s S2pid Luv there).

Speaking of songs, most of the lyrics that were played during key moments were too on the nose when the actors’ performances should have been enough to convey the emotions. It was just too soon to have another The Breakup Playlist (or Ang Kwento Nating Dalawa).

5. Nakakatawa yung Kung Ako si John Lloyd song. Especially since it reminded me of One More Chance where Maja played another jilted lover. “Ay lab yu en ay wil tel yu ebridey. Ebridey antil yu porget da tings dat herth. Eep onli it cud bee dan, bat eet kennat bee dan.”

Also, the car scene here where she ended up in the back seat felt like a reversal of fortune when Basha sobbed as a third wheel for Trisha and Popoy.

6. I wasn’t too happy with the extraneous Jason Ty character and subplot. Don’t get me wrong, Dominic Roco played that Dimples Romana slash Ricci Chan role to a tee and he delivered some of the most hilarious lines in the movie (“Wag mo sya sasaktan papa-jombag talaga kita kay Claudine”, “Happy Horse for the happy whore!”, “Taray, seven years a slave”), but another gay best friend acting as the voice of reason slash source of comic relief deserved a side eye from fairy godmother Rupert Everett.

Also, his biggest love problem was that he said “I love you” after a one night stand. And his happy ever after involved a Grindr hook-up and a possible threesome. Dai, ang babaw ha.

7. Why were they all being mean to Pathy (Jasmine Curtis-Smith) for being vegan? I, too, would never eat bagnet (I’m just not fond of pork’s texture) so I felt closest to her character. It wasn’t her fault if her parents (probably Pamela and Thyro) named her with that unfortunate H. Also, why was she considered a villain for being an elitista that got featured in Young Star? She was actually a very charming and nice person who…wait, didn’t Iza Calzado also play the sweetest third party in Starting Over Again? And wasn’t she also named Patty? #HustisyaParaSaMgaPatty

8. “Tangina ang sakit ng truth, no? Lalo na kapag isinasampal sayo.” If Jason Ty were her real friend, he would have given her that Maricel Soriano bitch-slap that she deserved much, much earlier.

Rating: ★★★☆☆