THAT AWKWARD MOMENT (Tom Gormican, 2014)

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My notes on That Awkward Moment:

1. The most awkward thing in this movie was realizing just how unfunny a movie called That Awkward Moment was. (Didn’t make any sense. So did the movie.)

2. Felt like a badly-written guy version of Sex and the City where everyone was playing Samantha.

3. Zac Efron peed horizontally on the toilet. A nude Zac Efron took a girl from behind. Zac Efron wore a prosthetic penis ala Mark Wahlberg in Boogie Nights.

We get it Zac Efron, you don’t want to be Troy Bolton anymore.

4. I need to watch Fruitvale Station. Michael B. Jordan seemed to be the only decent actor in this movie.

5. Zac Efron wore a prosthetic penis. Oh wait, I said that already.

6. Sharpay wouldn’t be caught dead watching this.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published February 4, 2014.)

17 AGAIN (Burr Steers, 2009)

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So Chandler Bing’s younger self looked very much like Troy Bolton? Definitely a fantasy.

I’d see anything with Matthew Perry and Thomas Lennon as housemates. Oh wait, I did watch them in that Odd Couple reboot!

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

THE GREATEST SHOWMAN (Michael Gracey, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on The Greatest Showman:

1. It had been over a year already and I still couldn’t forget the fabulous opening sequence of La La Land. Another Day of Sun fully encapsulated the reason why I really love musicals. I’d always imagine myself stuck along EDSA during Friday night rush hour traffic and I would get out of my car and burst into song while commuters inside cars and buses would sing a chorus and dance along with me. Why would there be any road rage when I could simply belt out my six octave range (bye Mariah!) and shimmy with the takatak boys? Our lives as a series of music videos would definitely be one sweet sweet fantasy, right?

2. As a musical, Showman was an enjoyable treat with its dazzling set pieces, spectacular choreography (that rooftop dance sequence with the dancing kumots!), and soaring sugar pop melodies. My favorite number was Rewrite the Stars with Zac Efron and Zendaya flying through the air on ropes, making it the most dangerous flirtation since I joined (and ultimately deleted) Tinder five years ago.

I also really liked the powerhouse performance of Rebecca Ferguson in Never Enough, until 1) I discovered that it really wasn’t her singing (it was actually dubbed by The Voice contestant Loren Allred), and 2) I realized immediately after that she was pining for a married man. In a culture fascinated with kabit movies where viewers enjoy seeing these women get their comeuppance, I wonder how many Pinoys actually loved this (in context) mistress song.

3. I wasn’t a huge fan of Tom Hooper’s Les Miserables (a singing Russell Crowe scarred me for life), but amidst the distractingly tight close-ups was an undeniably terrific performance by Hugh Jackman. He delivered again here as P.T. Barnum, serving as a ringleader to his troop of circus oddities and trying to stay true on the promise of being the greatest showman.

I actually liked him better in this movie because he was just more effective as a performer than a singer (check his Tony Awards hosting work on YouTube!). I also had a good laugh when the young Barnum got caught stealing a loaf of bread, the very reason why Jean Valjean turned into prisoner 24601.

4. I wish there was more of a story here to latch on to. Sure, I bawled my eyes out during the A Million Dreams song and also when the family moved into their mansion and one of the daughters received her ballet slippers, but everything else just felt very basic.

Did we really need two langit-lupa love stories when we didn’t even know much about the circus members (I couldn’t even recall any of their names!)? Even American Horror Story: Freak Show was able to bring life to its characters (sorry, but Kathy Bates would always be the Bearded Lady to me) and went beyond the “They’re humans, too!” message. When the group belted out the supposedly cathartic This Is Me song, it felt more like a production number on Glee rather than a poignant anthem about celebrating diversity.

Wait, did I just sound very much like a “theater critic who can’t find joy in a theater”?

5. I also felt a bit sad that the movie just glossed on some seemingly important topics, especially the one regarding exploitation. I wish we had more insights to this so-called celebration of humanity where people with disabilities weren’t treated any differently from animals in a zoo.

As a kid, I remembered going to a local perya and paying Php20 to watch a Lalaking Alimango (billed as a half-human, half-crab, but in reality was a man with underdeveloped arms and limbs and had pincer-like growths instead of fingers). I cried out of fear and also out of pity because they made him swim in this tub of dirty water.

I guess the idea of tackling freaks as entertainment was just too heavy for this movie that only aimed to be a feel-good one, ending with Jackman joyously riding an elephant in the city to meet his loving family. And after that, all was right with the world.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

THIS TIME (Nuel Naval, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on This Time:

1. I could easily relate to Ava’s (Nadine Lustre) hate for summer. It was bad enough that the six-pack abs that I wished for last Christmas did not magically show up this month in time for Laboracay (I hate you Santa!), this was also my dreaded season of extreme sunshine and salty sweating. Her reason was completely different from mine, of course: her assumed childhood boyfriend Coby only visited (and left her) every summer, but hey, if James Reid (How to be you po?) were to spend time with anyone even for just a day, that person would be eternally thankful. Show some gratitude girl! (You didn’t even wish that from Santa!)

2. With a coffin on display in their sala and with the family living in a funeral home (named Buhay Funeral Homes, naturally), I got a lot of the Six Feet Under vibe. Except that Frances Conroy never really danced like a loon around a corpse (although she should have).

The dining table was right next to the sala and the family had what looked like dinuguan and bopis for lunch. I could never imagine myself eating dinuguan and bopis inside a funeral home. Wait, I could never imagine myself eating dinuguan and bopis. Period.

3. The Buhay Family was supposed to be funny, but they were just annoying. Candy Pangilinan who was spectacular in Star Na Si Van Damme Stallone resorted back to her irritating tics as a comedian with the belief that the louder she said her line, the funnier it would be. (Uh, no.) Also, why did these supporting characters always say supposedly funny lines in unison? Are we forever stuck with this kind of comedy?

4. Nadine was really playing Marcelo Santos III with all her endless hugot lines and empty platitudes on love and long-distance relationships. These were some of her groan-worthy bon mots:

• “Ang love ay parang traffic. Susuot ka kung saan-saan pero mararating mo rin ang destinasyon mo.”

• “Sa pagiging loyal ko nga dapat may loyalty card na ako na may points eh.”

Of course her loud and shrill friends (Ultimate Kakaibabe Donnalyn Bartolome, etc.) had to contribute their own terrible lines that included this classic:

“Ang relationship na walang label, parang damit sa ukay. Ang labo!” (Huh? Malabo yung damit sa ukay? Labhan mo kasi teh!)

4. Why did Ava really hate summer? Cue flashback. Include a lengthy story about Ava and Coby as kids because we terribly need a filler to support such a simple love story. Flashbacks should have a comic book effect. The Marvel-er, the better. Throw in the Snapchat filters because they’re so cool nowadays! Wait, we need a beach scene. Ok, sa Japan naman! When does this flashback end? What? End na ng movie? Ano ‘to ukay? Bakit ang labo?

5. The only ice cream that ever existed in this universe was Selecta Cornetto. I was surprised that it didn’t have its own major billing in the credits. It had a more substantial role (and acted better) than Bret Jackson, to be honest.

6. The first young boy that played James didn’t look like him at all. The teenage Nadine, on the other hand, looked exactly like her because it was really Nadine, only in pigtails, dressed in overalls, and acting immature.

7. I couldn’t actually recall crying over the break-up of celebrities. Hmm, okay, I think I teared up a bit when Kris Aquino broke it off with Joey Marquez, but only because my ears could only handle all the STD talk.

In this movie, we knew the passage of time because Ava cried every time a celebrity couple called it quits (Jen & Brad, Zac & Vanessa). Oh, and also because of the local history on popular diseases (H1N1). Fortunately, there was no mention of STD.

8. Full disclosure: I had never really liked a JaDine movie. Diary ng Panget was icky and that Talk Back one made me wish I were dead. I became an instant fan because of On The Wings of Love, where their scorching chemistry was in full display. It was still here in this movie, only it wasn’t given enough to really shine. A great love team could only do so much to salvage terrible material. The first kiss didn’t elicit any kilig, the pottery scene was a bore, and the final painting scene (while they were wearing white, que horror said my OCD self!) was pure umay.

9. For the first time in Philippine cinema history, I saw the brilliant Ronnie Lazaro struggle in a role and it was for playing a gay guy who loved dogs. How sad. Speaking of, if you know a bachelor with dogs that they call babies and you’re wondering why he’s still single…

10. If there was one thing that I really liked here, it was that sweet little sub-plot involving Nova Villa and Freddie Webb (reminiscent of their romance in 1st Ko Si 3rd, or if you’re way older Chicks to Chicks). Their love story set amidst the cherry blossoms was everything that this movie wanted to be.

11. “Ayoko na kausap ang monitor, ayoko na kayakap ang iPad, ayoko na ka-kiss ang cellphone.” This line made me sad. Only because this girl was really cray. Eh di wag mo gawin, girl!

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

DIRTY GRANDPA (Dan Mazer, 2016)

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WARNING: R-18 DISCUSSION!!

My notes on Dirty Grandpa:

1. There are two cuts being shown in local cinemas (one’s R-16 and the other R-18), but I guarantee you that no amount of exposure of Zac Efron’s bubble butt will make any version less dreadful. If that’s your only reason for watching, you’re better off doing a Google search of his nude pictures (cheaper, too).

2. Why did it feel like the movie was made by a horny gay teenager? There were several close-ups of Zac’s ass, paraded onscreen for no reason. In one scene, he got drunk and was suddenly wearing a thong with a giant hornet covering his crotch (of course, the said thong was removed in a succeeding scene where he was just covering himself with his hands; the fact that he was able to cover everything would be a different discussion).

In another, he needed to change his outfit so he dropped his trousers because well, he just had to (and Robert De Niro had to make fun of his penis). Oh, and there was also that scene where he woke up in bed with an actual (prosthetic?) cock next to his face. Wait, did I actually end up convincing you to watch the movie? Argh!

3. I felt offended that the bride (played by Julianne Hough) was portrayed as a controlling bitch for simply being organized and putting special attention to her wedding details. What’s wrong if she had to select between a coral or salmon tie? Why is she shown as annoying for wanting a formal detailed announcement in the papers? Or wanting a slideshow of their best vacation pictures? Or sing a duet of Celine Dion’s Because You Loved Me during the engagement party? That is actually called love. Zac singing better than the bride (runs and all) should have been the cause of concern.

4. Sure, this was a raunchy comedy but I really pitied the actors involved in this project. The De Niro had a scene where he was masturbating to a porn video and said lines like “I wanna fuck until my dick falls off”. (Can someone check if this movie should be on the Guinness Book of Records for the most use of the word “vagina”?) Even the lovely Aubrey Plaza had to play a thirsty kitten with the hots for him while saying things like “You’re gonna tsunami on my face!”

5. One scene involved a lame pass-the-message joke that didn’t make any sense and stretched on for several minutes even without any punchline. Actually almost every scene here was like a filler to ensure a one and a half hour runtime.

6. It was odd that De Niro was mean and offensive to everyone (gays, blacks, people with disabilities) and yet he taught the rest a lesson on political correctness and respect when the same people were mocked. I guess he was the only one allowed to speak that way because he was, uhm, old?

7. The only thing I found funny was that he had Werther’s Original candies in his pockets. I love those! Yes, I’m eligible soon for Medicare. Stop laughing and show some respect to your elders.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆