Tween Academy: Class of 2012 is the story of three high school outcasts on the onset of puberty. Enzo (Elmo Magalona), Kara (Barbie Forteza) and George (Bea Binene) have always been made fun of, and they’re also always the last to be befriended by anyone. So at the start of their junior year, they make a promise to each other that they will do whatever they can to change their social standings. From being zeroes, the three will work their way to becoming part of the popular crowd.
The movie actually has three stories interlinked with each other because of the bond between the three main characters. We have Enzo’s story which revolves around finding the ideal woman–and finding out that she’s his teacher; we have Kara falling in love with the man who understands her best–and finding out he’s not who he says he is; and then we have George who is in love with her best friend, but he doesn’t see her as anything more.
GMA Films (and co-producer SMDC) hit the jackpot with the movie’s cast. Featuring the most popular “tween” stars of GMA Network, all the characters had to be given equal importance–if not equal screentime. And judging by the squeals and screams during the movie premiere, I would say the writer (Kit Villanueva-Langit) and the director (Mark Reyes) managed a job well done in balancing the three interlinking stories.
This is a good first film for many of the cast members. It’s something light and fun enough to be supported by the coveted “tweens” market, but it’s also dramatic enough that you don’t feel cheated at the end of the film. The story is as old as time, but the unbridled enthusiasm the cast gives their characters, and the in-tune dialogues really helped in making the film hip and current. As to whether it’ll stand the test of time… It might. So long as “net speak,” the language of chatters, survive as well.
Of course, no movie is perfect. And I have three bones to pick with the film. Number one is the editing. During parts of the movie, you’re left wondering if you skipped over something because of the jarring cut-to the director/editor employed. I don’t know whose call it was, but the least they could’ve done was soften the cut. Number two is the secret Jess (Louise delos Reyes) is keeping. It was hyped near the start of the film, but was quickly forgotten when the love stories started rolling. It doesn’t lessen one’s enjoyment of the film, but you can’t help wondering why it was made such a big deal in the beginning, if there wasn’t going to be a pay-off in the story anyway. And my last bone to pick has to do with the storylines of Diego (Kristoffer Martin) and Ashlee (Joyce Ching).
Since beginning their careers in the GMA Network with Endless Love, the two have shown that they have a natural acting ability that few local actors nowadays possess. And I really feel that they were underutilized in the movie to favor the more popular love teams. I’m not saying the other love teams didn’t deserve the spotlight. It’s just that it seemed obvious, maybe because of the editing, that the storyline given to Kristoffer and Joyce were an afterthought. It was just too bad though as I found their storyline interesting as well. It was a twist to the usual Romeo-and-Juliet story, where instead of having their families refuse to have them together, you have your Juliet wanting to keep her Romeo away from her family because she fears that he’ll be rejected. Also, it was confusing if Ashlee (Joyce’s character) was supposed to be a mean girl or not. Again, it doesn’t detract from the movie, but it’s something you’re going to ask yourself (or your companions) about, after the film.
And lest I forget; having Angelu de Leon and Bobby Andrews (the popular 90’s love team) play the parents of Barbie Forteza and Joshua Dionisio was an inspired casting decision. I just wished they gave them more to do–and maybe even one scene together. But that’s just me.
The movie also features a number of cameos that is sure to tickle the fancy of celebrity-spotters, or fans of the Where’s Wally puzzles. My favorite has to be Tim Yap’s role as the driver of Tessa Prieto-Valdez, and Marian Rivera’s scene-stealing aside when she catches Maximo (Derrick Monasterio) staring at her.
Tween Academy: Class of 2012 opens in theaters on August 24, in theaters nationwide. Well, in all SM Cinemas for sure. Will Ayala Malls show a movie that SMDC co-produced? That’s a question I don’t know the answer to. And do come in early for the film, so you can catch the trailer of the next Yam Llaranas (The Echo, Sigaw) film: The Road. It looks promising.