Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Dreamboy and Let the Love Begin: War of the Valentine Films 2005

Genre: Romance
The war of the networks has extended to the big screen! GMA (GMA studios) and ABS CBN (Star Cinema) has launched its pre-Valentine’s day presentation that both opened in theaters last February 9.

Star Cinema’s offering is entitled “Dream Boy,” a film produced by Gilbert Perez that stars Piolo Pascual and Bea Alonzo. Bea Alonzo is Cyd Gayton, a young lady that has been forced to mature fast and at such a young age because of her father’s early death. Cyd is under the care of her sweet and doting grandmother, who can be always be seen with her trusted fan, who is played by Nova Villa.

Cyd’s life is pretty much boring and rout nary until she met Philip Ong, played by Piolo Pascual. Philip is the son of the owner of Price Smart where Cyd works as a sales clerk. Right after the initial meeting, Philip has been captivated by Cyd’s beauty and charm and was convinced that he was in love with her by sight. He then tried to charm her by showering her with expensive gifts and granderous gestures. But in spite of these, Philip still has a hard time convincing the audience that he is indeed filthy rich with his inappropriate diction and clothing (A suit in everyday setting in the Philippines? Even tycoons don’t wear suits everyday especially if they are just out on an outing.). For someone who also has grown up rich, he sure looks uncomfortable and unaccustomed with all the grand things and attention he is getting. This part of the film is relatively boring and the audience will be partly convinced that a Piolo and Bea love team will not really sizzle in the big screen. The chemistry is not just there. The audience would also begin to wonder if Piolo has suddenly lost his great acting ability. His portrayal of this rich boy persona is just so wrong. Philip and Cyd’s love affair ended quickly with Cyd cutting Philip from her life after having been degraded and accused as a gold digger by Philip’a aunt in the company’s black tie party.

The story started to pick up when the next Piolo character entered the scene. Eboy Gandarosa is athletic, ruggedly handsome and has an animalistic appeal that most girls would fall far. He is the typical maginoo pero medyo bastos guy Pinays fall for and Cyd certainly didn’t escape his charm. Eboy is definitely more likeable than Philip maybe because his character is so typical and Piolo has played it wit such ease one would wonder if this bad boy is the real personality of the actor. Eboy has made such an impact on Cyd that she started falling for him but unfortunately, her dreams got shattered when she was confronted by Eboy’s fiancĂ©.

The story takes a more bizarre twist when Cyd meets the third Piolo character this time in the persona of Jaime Tuazon, a restaurant employee who has a boy next door appeal. At this point of the story, the audience starts to really wonder how come there are so many Piolo personas in the movie. That’s the best thing about “Dream boy” the plot is not the typical pinoy love story, so predictable as if u have written the script yourself. The movie has a very good twist that garnered a universal “OMG, so that’s why!” reaction. Suddenly, everything makes sense. Philip’s ill fitting suits and awkward actions, Piolo’s bad acting at the first part of the movie (the scenes did require bad acting) and the corny freeze shots then interview portion of the film. “Dream Boy” has the most original Filipino plot I have ever seen and kudos to its writers, cast and director for being able to keep the audience captivated. And most importantly, “Dream Boy” has lived to it’s promise to make its audience feel kilig. Piolo and Bea do have that certain chemistry and their love team is very effective. Indeed, “Dream Boy” is worthy of the grade B awarded to it by the Cinema Evaluation Board.

Just a piece of advice, see this movie from start to finish to be able to fully appreciate it. Never leave your seats till the end of the credits. You’ll find more entertaining scenes there.

Meanwhile, GMA films offer for this season of the hearts is entitled “Let the Love Begin.” This love story is starred by GMA’s hottest loveteams, Mulawain’s Richard Guttierez and Angle Locsin and Starstruck’s ultimate survivor Mark Herras-Jennalyn Mercado.

This movie is not complex at all. Poor boy (Gutierrez) meets rich girl (Locsin) and fall in love with her but because of their social status was not able to be together. Actually, at the first half of the film, rich girl does not really know or care that poor guy exists but still poor guy continues to love her. When he finally gathered enough guts to tell her how he feels, rich girl has to go to the US to study. After a few years, rich girl comes back and lo and behold! she is the boss of poor boy who is up to now still has no changes in his life status. This time, they get acquainted and rich girl starts to fall for poor guy. The twist comes in when another guy comes into the picture making rich girl feel that what she feels for poor guy is not real. Alas, rich girl comes to her senses when poor boy is out of the picture. She then goes to his house to finally tell him how she feels but poor boy has already left for the airport. Rich girl then chases him to the airport only to miss him by a few minutes. Rich girl emotes then from behind comes poor boy and then finally they are together.

“Let the Love begin” is a typical Filipino love story movie: plot is too ordinary and simple, lines and scenes are predictable, and cast are stereotypical – rich girl is stupid but trendy, poor boy is intelligent and the silent type and they have two back up love teams to help the two main characters get back together. Supporting girl (Mercado) is boyish and is the best bud of supporting boy (Herras) who is a chickboy. After a few years they will end up together. Rich girl has a funny, underground friend who will be with her till the end to help make the audience laugh and poor boy has a funny friend too who will be with him till the end to help make the audience laugh too. Rich girl has a yaya to help build her up while poor boy has a lola to help build him up. Don’t you see? We all have seen this before. The only thing changing are the actors who play them. There is nothing really to look forward to for the audience themselves already knows what is going to happen. It is also dragging and boring. The main characters took two hours before they are finally together and there are no kilig scenes to help build up the audience before their much awaited reunion. Actually, till the end of the film, there are no kilig scenes. The movie promised to make the audience fall in love and never achieved that. It did give a lot of kissing scenes at the end but still it did not make up for the long and dragging scenes shown to get there. There are also loopholes in the cast. Imagine Tuesday Vargas trying hard to play a part of a social climbing 16 year old girl. You can just imagine her singing her hit song “D ako bakla” while watching her onscreen.

“Let the Love Begin” might have beaten “Dream Boy” in box office sales (“let the Love begin” has indeed been marketed properly compared to “Dream Boy”) but “dream Boy” has beaten “Let the love begin” hands down in style, substance and story.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Tanging Ina as the Tanging All Time Box Office Hit

Genre: Comedy

I had reservations in watching “Tanging Ina.” Even if I know for a fact that it’ s the top Filipino film, grossing Php13 million in its opening day and earning P200 million up to date, it is still not on my movie list. After all, I grew up with a notion that Filipino films are either corny or baduy, thanks to bad (and almost always x-rated) Filipino movies shown and produced while I was growing up. But “Tanging Ina” is an intriguing movie right from the start. With a title that sounds like a Tagalog swear word and an unusual storyline that was peppered with spoofs from Star Cinema Blockbusters like “Anak,” “Madrasta,” “Kailangan Kita,” “Tanging Yaman,” and “Bata, Bata, Paano Ka Ginawa,” it has piqued the interest of the people enough to lead them to the movie houses to watch it.

Ai-Ai de las Alas, together with Star Cinema’s young contract stars, stars this Comedy movie which was directed by TV director Wenn Deramas. “Tanging Ina” was not originally meant for Daramas. But upon learning that it would star Ai-Ai, Deramas grabbed the opportunity to work with the comedienne he loves so much. “Tanging Ina” is Ai Ai’s first solo movie after 13 years in the Business. The movie is about a single mother, Ina Monticillo, who will do anything just to be able to give the needs of her children. Risking her safety and even dignity to achieve this task, she worked all sorts of job from a promo girl to a construction worker and eventually ending up as a gay impersonator/singer in a club. But things are never easy as her relationship with her children suffers because of her job. She tried to give the very best of practically everything for her children, but it seems that her very best is never good enough. In the end, everything turned out well when her children eventually understood that everything she does, even how embarrassing and low it may seem, is all for them. Giving the movie a twist is the fact that Ina has a dozen kids from 3 different husbands.

The concept of a movie about a mother doing everything for her children is nothing ordinary and have in fact been used in many other films before. What made it into something new and fresh is the fact that it was portrayed in a comedy. It also helped a lot that in this film, Filipino Comedy has been portrayed in a different formula. The approach has really deviated from the traditional fashion, which rely on slapstick and toilet humor, and almost always ending with a ridiculous chase sequence Filipino Comedies have been known for. Most of “Tanging Ina’s” lines were smart and hilarious and would appeal not only to the Masa but to all sorts of people. Also, one factor that has attributed to its success is the Filipinos’s penchant for underdogs. We want our heroes and heroines as api as they can be but still at the end be able to achieve what they want and “Tanging Ina” has that as well.

But what made the movie so popular and watch worthy is the fact that every Pinoy can relate to it. The movie is as realistic as it can be. There are no exaggerations in the script and also in the acting. It has portrayed the realistic situation of how hard it is to raise a family in the country especially if you are a single parent. It has shown how hard it is to earn money that your educational background and experience may sometimes don’t matter; you will grab every job available, even having rakets on the sides, as long as you make enough money for the family’s needs hence Ina landing a job as a gay impersonator. It has also touched the hearts of the viewers as the movie points all through out the film that a parent’s love for her kids is so great that all hardships and pain are worth enduring just to be able to give her children a bright future. The lines are witty, the acting good and the plot spiced with morals and lessons. A total brew for a blockbuster hit.

Critics didn’t expect “Tanging Ina” to do so well that it will become as the Philippine’s All Time Box Office Hit. After all, it has tough competition with “Pakners,” which starred The King Fernando Poe Jr. and Billiards Champion Efren Bata Reyes. But it did do so well that it has dislodged “Anak” in it’s throne. It even garnered awards from Award Giving Bodies such as the Best Actress Award and Most Popular Writer for its script. “Tanging Ina” deserves the top movie slot of all times. It has a good storyline and script, good actors and a good director that was able to execute the script so well that no gaps with the story can be seen. All grounds were covered; the audience won’t be left guessing and hanging on scenes. It is a movie that was able to tackle a serious situation (raising a big family as a single parent) and deliver it in a light manner, a very Filipino perspective way of living. “Tanging Ina” has also started a trend in the Filipino movie industry; a trend for witty and not-OA Comedy Films. As for me, it has me really entertained for the two hours of watching it.