GAME NIGHT (John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Game Night:

1. One of my all-time favorite episodes of Friends was The One With the Embryos where the gang played a heated, high stakes game of (personal) Trivia. Not only did I learn a lot about each of them (Monica was nicknamed Big Fat Goalie in field hockey, Chandler was scared of Michael Flatley, Lord of the Dance, Rachel’s favorite movie was actually Weekend at Bernie’s and not Dangerous Liaisons, Joey had an imaginary childhood friend called Maurice), but it also culminated in the most hilarious moment in the show’s history that reduced me to tears every time I would watch it.

In the said scene, the girls were stumped on the question regarding Chandler’s job. In a desperate attempt for an answer, Rachel shouted, “He’s a transponster!” that prompted Monica to scream, “That’s not even a word!”. It was succeeded with a huge howl of “Noooooooooo!!” when she realized that they just lost and had to give up their gorgeous apartment. (I seriously couldn’t stop laughing while writing this at the thought of Courteney Cox’s face.)

I could easily relate to Monica because I would get really competitive during any of these team party games (Charades, Pictionary, Scrabble, Hangman, Trivial Pursuit, Pinoy Henyo, even that Dribble Dribble Dribble balloon game in a Jollibee Kiddie Party, you name it). It wasn’t even about the prize, just the pure sense of false satisfaction I’d get knowing that I was better than someone on something. (Forgive me, I had really low self-esteem and needed constant validation.)

I was actually happy with the resurgence of these niche stores that provided the option of puzzles and board games as an alternative source of entertainment on a lazy Saturday night. Now if I could just find some really good challengers out there. (Yabang haha!)

2. The opening credits of this film alone was the ultimate 90’s nerd fantasy. Tokens from different games like Monopoly and Cluedo were floating around as if part of a geek’s hazy wet dream. You could laugh all you want, but only a few would understand the incredible happiness brought about by owning several red hotels on Boardwalk and Park Place.

3. I had always imagined Rachel McAdams as the iconic (and airhead) Regina George so it felt a bit weird to see her play somebody relatively smart for a change. Simply put, she was fantastic as Annie with her best bit involving an awkward shimmy to Third Eye Blind’s Semi-Charmed Life while she dorkily waved a loaded gun in front of some real thugs (and even took a selfie with the gun’s muzzle in her mouth). The humor stemmed from her character thinking that everything was still part of a game and the more clueless she was, the funnier the situation got.

Her energy here was matched by the usually sardonic Jason Bateman as Max, whose deadpan stares could mine laughs even in petty discussions about Tostitos Scoops.

Among the competent cast though, my favorite was Jesse Plemons whose neighbor Gary looked like a creepy version of Matt Damon by way of Phillip Seymour Hoffman. I really couldn’t understand why his seemingly sympathetic character was no longer invited in these game nights until he actually drew a picture of himself crying to represent The Green Mile. No, no, no. He would definitely not be part of my team.

4. I liked the go-for-broke silliness of the film, but I wish it was able to sustain its comedic rhythm all-throughout. It just needed more genius scenes like the one where Annie tried to remove a bullet from Max’s arm and ended up tapping on his bone before she realized that there was actually an exit wound.

I also enjoyed the mockery of action films when the glass tables here never really broke regardless of the number of bodies that crashed into them. The entire one-take egg chase around the mansion looked impressive, but just didn’t have the right energy to match earlier shenanigans.

5. Fake Denzel Washington was a great payoff to a running celebrity gag, but I laughed harder when the group was able to enumerate all of the actors that played The Hulk, except for Edward Norton. You could barely remember him in this role as well, right? The Incredible Hulk was actually the second film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and was directed by Louis Leterrier. His commercial debut film? The Transporter. (Nope, still not Chandler’s job.)

Rating: ★★★☆☆

MAMA’S GIRL (Connie Macatuno, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Mama’s Girl:

1. I think it was Maricel Soriano in T2 who held the record for the most number of times that a Pinoy character mentioned another character’s name in the entire duration of a movie. My ears were bleeding by the nth time she screamed “Angeli!”.

I thought that I would suffer the same fate while watching this one. Every time Mina (Sylvia Sanchez, transitioning from Nay to Mama) would mention “Abbypotpot”, I would cringe and just wanted to crawl in a fetal position. It wasn’t merely annoying, the unnecessary repetition rendered the inauthenticity of this term of endearment.

2. Should I feel like a monster for not appreciating a movie that showcased the undying love of a mother? One where Mama Mina actually pulled a Bea Alonzo as The Incredible Hulk in She’s The One and singlehandedly changed a flat tire in the rain?

I’d put the blame on Abbypotpot (Sofia Andres), a character devoid of empathy because she was just so stubborn, selfish, ungrateful, and acted like the biggest privileged B (I meant brat, by the way). And that was even before her mother’s death so there was just no excuse for her terrible attitude.

3. Or maybe it was because this one completely ripped off P.S. I Love You, one of my most-watched post-breakup comfort movies. I thought of it first when she started seeing her dead mother doing normal things while dispensing life lessons, but it was made more obvious when it was revealed that said mom also left a box of five letters with carefully written instructions that she needed to follow step-by-step. Pati voiceover kuhang-kuha at kulang na lang talaga si Gerard Butler. So much for originality.

4. Part of the box’s contents was a set of index cards that had the secret recipes of Mama Mina’s successful Pasta House. I wasn’t sure why she didn’t make habilin before her death, especially if said recipes could make or break her pasta empire. Wouldn’t it have been easier to teach in person the proper way to slice tomatoes or how big each meatball should be? If she had time to write each note, surely she could have found an hour for a quick kitchen tutorial.

5. I wasn’t surprised when the restaurant business crumbled after her death. None of her staff knew that they were serving items that were considered panis (“Maasim na daw po yung lasa”). Seriously, only Mama Mina would know if something was spoiled already? Not even the chef/cook tasted the food before it went out of the kitchen? And to make matters worse, the solution they came up with to pacify these complaints was to offer a complimentary cake. Sana hindi rin panis diba?

6. I think this would be the fifth film that starred Jameson Blake that I had seen in a span of one year, but definitely no complaints here. As Zak, a supposedly famous rock star slash cheating ex-boyfriend of Abbypotpot, his scenes were usually punctuated by drum sounds for added effect (“It’s over!” Drum sounds. “Slap!” Drum sounds.)

At least he could play a rock in his next film and I would pay to watch it without any reservations.

7. For a story about motherly love, there was too much time spent on the landian between Abbypotpot and best friend Nico (Diego Loyzaga). He kept calling her Budz and I really thought it was short for Budjoy because they were basically playing the reversed roles of Ned and Budjoy in Labs Kita Okay Ka Lang?. Unfortunately, I was rooting for Zak the entire time.

8. While other mothers would ask their kids not to cry upon their death, Mama Mina’s loving advice to Abbypotpot was “Hindi pa ako patay. Tipirin mo na lang ang mga luha mo sa libing ko.” Eek!

9. Sofia’s a lovely girl, but the abundance of her pink blush here gave new meaning to pumuputok. At least she looked very much like a #VavaengMarangal.

10. Upon reading the words “Ang pagluluto ay parang pagmamahal. Kelangan bantayan at kapag hindi ka marunong pumili ng mga sangkap, lahat mababalewala”, Abbypotpot magically turned into a chef that could save their restaurant business. Nahiya bigla ang lahat ng Culinary Arts students.

Kelangan lang pala mag-practice to the tune of With a Smile. Pasok Reese Lansangan. “Lurft yer herd, bheybee durn’t buhr scurred…”

Rating: ★★☆☆☆