Movie: My Bebe Love

"My Bebe Love"

Vic Sotto plays the role of Vito who finds himself at odds and in a bitter professional rivalry with Cora, played by Ai-Ai delas Alas. The two are both in the business of mounting special events. The conflict happens when their respective wards – Anna (played by Maine) daughter of Vito, gets romantically entangled with Cora’s beloved nephew Dondi (played by Alden). As expected, the “parents” actively reject the budding romantic involvement between the star-crossed lovers.

It’s that time of the year again when theaters in the Philippines are showing only entries for the Metro Manila Film Festival. And as is the case every year, my mom had the family watching a Vic Sotto movie. Which means that I watched My Bebe Love.

I didn’t hate it.

I mean, I didn’t love it either, but it wasn’t as bad as some of the other Vic Sotto-starrers I’ve been subjected to. But it wasn’t as good as the Vic Sotto films that got it right either. (I have very low expectations set when it comes to films starring Vic Sotto. Ever since the very first Enteng Kabisote film.)

The thing with My Bebe Love is–it doesn’t seem to know who the central characters are. And I sort of blame the AlDub phenomenon. (I’m not going to explain what the AlDub phenomenon is, but you can read about it on Wikipedia. That’s right. It has a Wikipedia page.)

Now, watching My Bebe Love, it was obvious that the story being set up is supposed to center on conservative Vito clashing and then falling in love with the liberal Cora. They’re the ones with the premise and promise right at the beginning. Their respective charges, Anna and Dondi, are only supposed to move their plots along. It’s a very basic story set-up.

I don’t know during what part of the production period the AlDub phenomenon happened, but you can clearly see that when this movie was being filmed, some Vito-Cora development was thrown out the window in favor of giving more screen time for the better-loved supporting players. And it ruins the love story that the film was supposed to be about: that of Vito’s and Cora’s.

The thing is, this could have not been the case.

I know the producers of My Bebe Love were banking on the popularity of the AlDub love team to make this movie bigger than it was projected to be. But how hard was it to make their participation not feel shoe-horned in?

The set up is there. The stakes are there. But instead of using the additional scenes featuring the supporting characters to give their story more substance, they were underutilized and made to do what they’ve been doing every day in their Kalyeserye on television. And it makes their plot, the subplot, disjointed. Because, obviously, their characters had plot points they needed to hit. But instead of just progressing with those and letting those plot points define their character arcs, they were given scenes that didn’t serve anything more than a fleeting sense of romance and giddiness.

And they’re not the only ones to suffer. Suddenly, the main plot of the film is also missing two of its most vital parts: it’s supporting plot, and the time to progress their story forward. At one point, it felt like they were the ones supporting the subplot.

I feel bad for all the actors involved in this film. There was potential for My Bebe Love to be something more (and something different) from what the Vic Sotto films usually turn out to be), but it was wasted on poor story structuring and character progression.

Movie: My Little Bossings

"My Little Bossings"

When millionaire Babu is put under the bus for a pyramid scheme she isn’t even involved with, she tasks her personal assistant to hide her son with his family. But Torky, her assistant, will have family issues of his own to deal with when he brings his boss’s son home, only to find an estranged relative with a strange ward.

Okay, so I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. It helps, I think, that the direction was good. But the best part of the film for me has to be the fact that Vic Sotto’s character is not the main focus of the story.

My Little Bossing do actually focus on the characters played by Kris Aquino’s son Bimby, and Ryzza Mae Dizon. Neither of whom are good actors, but deliver solid enough performances that will tug at your heart strings.

The best part of the film though has to be Jaclyn Jose, who seems to just be enjoying the film for what it is: good fun. Her acting here is by no means awards-worthy, but the fun she’s having with role is positively contagious. You can’t help but have fun alongside her.

And for the first time in a Vic Sotto movie since the second Enteng Kabisote movie (the only one with Alice Dixon and Marian Rivera), we actually get a lot of heart. Now, I have some complaints about the lines and some set-ups, but I love how the film underlines how important talking is in families.

It’s no secret to my friends how much I’ve wanted to write an Okey Ka Fairy Ko movie; one that puts the franchise back on what really made it work before: its emphasis on family values. Watching My Little Bossings, I think I can let go of that dream now. Because this film actually actualizes the story I’ve been wanting to write for Okey Ka Fairy Ko. And although it’s not perfect, it hits the right notes.

There is actually just one thing I want to complain about in this film. (Surprising, again, for a Vic Sotto film.) It’s the characters. Some of them have questionable principles (Vic’s being on the forefront of this one), most of them are not consistent, and some of them have unclear goals. I think, had the screenplay clarified the characters and made them more whole, the whole movie would’ve been better.

But the movie’s already out there. We can only be thankful for the parts they got right.

Hopefully, this starts a trend for Vic Sotto movies to start focusing again on what made his old films something we remember fondly: the right family values.

Movie: Si Agimat, Si Enteng Kabisote, at si Ako

"Si Agimat, Si Enteng Kabisote, at Ako"

And once again, the people behind the Enteng Kabisote franchise managed to ruin my childhood.

Si Agimat, si Enteng Kabisote, at si Ako is the sequel to the 2010 hit Si Agimat at si Enteng Kabisote. This time, box-office kings Vic Sotto and Bong Revilla, Jr. are joined by box-office queen Judy Ann Santos. The story, what little there is of it, takes place after the events of Enteng ng Ina Mo, Vic Sotto’s collaborative movie from last year’s Metro Manila Film Festival.

And just like in last year’s entry, this one ruins the character of Enteng Kabisote–and brings down the characters of Faye/Chlorateam, Samara, and Agimat with it.

This film was completely disappointing, considering how heartfelt the first collaboration was. In my opinion then, Si Agimat at si Enteng Kabisote worked because it gave focus to what the franchise was supposed to be about: family. This year’s film focused on trust issues–the same issues that were brought up and resolved in last year’s Enteng ng Ina Mo. And to bring out these trust issues that needed to be addressed, the characters of Enteng Kabisote, Faye/Chlorateam, Samara and Agimat were tweaked to devolve into their base emotions–and not the good ones.

Which brings me to the biggest problem, I think, the film has: Judy Ann Santos’s character.

Angelina (or Ako, as she wants to be called) is an extreme environmentalist who gives no thought to the repercussions of her actions. She does things without thinking of the consequences, and thus puts into motion a painful jealousy subplot for the male main characters and their respective loved ones.

She openly flirts with both Agimat and Enteng Kabisote, and yet is only called out on it by the wives and one other character–that of John Lapus’, who is made to look antagonistic even though he is the only one making any sense.

That is, until the end when he refuses to help defeat the monster boss. And when he automatically forgives Agimat and Enteng Kabisote for being absolute douches because Ako tells him to. Then again, that’s pretty much all he does in the whole movie: do what Ako tells him to do and be the emotional punching bag for the main characters.

But at least he gets actual characterization. The rest of the cast don’t even get that: the powerful Ina Magenta is demoted to just being a punchline and a pusher of plots; Enteng’s family and friends only appear to serve as sounding boards and comic relief; Agimat’s world only provides the grunts and minions–cannon fodder, basically; and GMA-7’s once-popular tweens are completely underused.

And that brings me to my biggest pet peeve when it comes to film franchises: continuity. Yassi Pressman, who has played a fairy before, is shown now as part of Ako’s team. Good for the actress, she gets more screen time–but it was something the casting director (or the writer) could’ve fixed. They could’ve cast another actress for a whole new character, or they could’ve written her ousting from Engkantasya into the story, to make more sense of how there is a whole new fairy world that no one knew about!

My next gripe has to do with Barbie Forteza who already appeared in a significantly bigger role in the first collaboration of Agimat and Enteng Kabisote. She played the bratty god-daughter of Enteng in the film from two years ago–and in fact, she is the one who introduces Bogart (Wally Bayola) into the Kabisote household. Again, this is something that the casting director, or the writer, could’ve fixed. But I’m leaning towards blaming the writer with this one–especially because her cameo could’ve actually propelled the story forward without resorting to a sequence of exposition.

Barbie has a connection to Enteng Kabisote. She gets attacked by evil aliens. She can be the one to call Enteng for help, instead of having a totally unnecessary interview scene on television that Enteng will then watch–and not believe! What the hell, right?

I could go on and on about how bad this film is, but you know what? I won’t even bother anymore.

Whatever charm and wit there was in Si Agimat at si Enteng Kabisote is completely absent in this money-grab masquerading as a film.

Movie: Enteng ng Ina Mo

"Enteng ng Ina Mo" directed by Tony ReyesI’ve already resigned myself to the fact that whenever a Vic Sotto movie is showing, I’m going to be accompanying my mother in watching said film. And Vic Sotto always has an entry to the Metro Manila Film Festival. And after last year’s successful crossover movie, Si Agimat at si Enteng Kabisote, I guess  it was only logical for Vic Sotto to entertain another crossover with two successful film franchises: this time his Enteng Kabisote is meeting the wacky family of Ang Tanging Ina Mo. And thus we have, Enteng ng Ina Mo.

Unlike Ang Panday 2, which focused too much on its main character’s unerring virtues and hero moments, Enteng ng Ina Mo doesn’t shy away from the faults of its lead characters. To a fault, actually. Because being an Okey Ka Fairy Ko kid, I didn’t really like the way they wrote Enteng Kabisote’s character in the first thirty minutes of the film. But I’ll get to that later. What I really want to talk about first is the fact that the movie knew what was going to work this Christmas season: family.

I’ve said it before, I think, that when an Enteng Kabisote movie revolves around family, it really works. And it’s inevitable that the film would revolve around family seeing as it’s crossing over with the Tanging Ina film franchise. So I had high hopes for this film. Well, higher hopes than I did for Ang Panday 2. So when I was disappointed by what I saw in Ang Panday 2, I figured that I would probably like this film less. Except I didn’t. Well, I did at first–but when the action started rolling, I stopped disliking it–and actually found the movie enjoyable.

The main arc of the story follows Satana (Bing Loyzaga) as she hatches yet another plan to takeover the faerie world of Enkantasya. But this time, one of her new minions forsees a prophecy that says an exceptional mother would be her undoing. Satana thinks the prophecy is talking about Ina Magenta (Amy Perez), her sister and long-time rival. But when she succeeds in abducting the ruler of Engkantasya, her minion maintains that the prophecy still holds true. An exceptional mother, one who has something Satana never will possess, will be the evil queen’s undoing. And so Satana turns her eyes on Enkantasya’s heir to the throne: Chlorateam (Gwen Zamora)–a faerie who deigned to fall in love with a mortal, and one whose sole purpose in life is to love her family.

With Ina Magenta missing, the kingdom of Enkantasya calls on Chlorateam to take on the responsibilities of ruling the faerie world–something Satana doesn’t want happening. So she decides to play with Chlorateam’s family–by casting a spell on her husband Enteng (Vic Sotto) to fall in love with another woman, thereby destroying the foundation that makes Chlorateam stronger than her: her family.

What Satana didn’t count on was the fact that Enteng would fall in love with an exceptional mother: Ina Montecillo (Ai Ai delas Alas), who eventually turns out to be the mother foretold in her minion’s prophecy. What follows are hijinx after hijinx as Enteng’s and Ina’s family work on making sure that Enteng and Ina don’t end up together; to save the world of Enkantasya, as well as the heart of Ina Montecillo.

Enteng ng Ina Mo has a good balance of comedy, fantasy, action and heart that is perfect for the Christmas season. And while the Enteng Kabisote franchise does make a return to the cheesy effects it employed prior to last year’s Si Agimat at si Enteng Kabisote, the good material was enough to make it work in the end.

Now, as for my earlier gripe about Enteng’s characterization; when Enteng learns of Chlorateam’s decision to take over Enkantasya, he makes her choose between her family and her responsibility. And while I understand that it was a spur of the moment thing that has Enteng feeling hurt and betrayed, it would’ve worked just as well has the writers decided for Enteng to take the martyr route. That would’ve been more in character for Enteng who has risked his life over and over again for the safety of Enkantasya. Just saying.

Movie: Pak! Pak! My Doctor Kwak!

"Pak! Pak! My Dr. Kwak!" starring Vic Sotto, Bea AlonzoI am all for promoting Filipino films in my blog, but this… How do I start?

Pak! Pak! My Dr. Kwak! is a romantic-comedy film that tackles the question: what happens when science meets faith? Vic Sotto plays a faith healer Angelo who clashes with a Cielo, a doctor, played by Bea Alonzo. But when a punished angel falls down from the sky and into their lives, the two learns that their ways of healing can co-exist—if they would only let it.

It’s a pretty basic story that follows the Vic Sotto movie formula: guy meets girl; girl is enamored by guy—but knows that they are incompatible; guy and girl starts to go out—but guy has one principle that goes against what girl is in his life; guy and girl makes a compromise, and they live happily ever after. Of course, we can’t discount the life-and-death situation that invariably crops up in all Vic Sotto movies—but I won’t say who almost bites the dust in this movie.

I’ve accepted this formula, and I am absolutely fine with the fact that many Filipinos (if the full theater last Saturday was any indication) find his brand of humor funny—regardless of the formula. Heck, I’ve even accepted the fact that Vic Sotto is getting partnered with a female lead who is decades younger than he is! But something about this movie rubbed me the wrong way.

Is it the fact that Bea Alonzo was reduced to a sniveling, whining b*tch who falls in love at a drop of a hat? Is it because of the mischievous angel who’s supposed to carry the morale of the movie doesn’t really show any angelic qualities aside from the “let’s pray” and “you have to do good deeds” mantras? Or maybe it’s because the movie glorifies faith healing, and then takes it back by suddenly saying that it is alternative medicine?

I don’t know who wrote the script for Pak! Pak! My Dr. Kwak! And I have nothing against him, her or them. But I have to ask, was there really a need to make this movie? Sure, from a financial and marketing point-of-view, I guess there is. But couldn’t they have written a different story that could’ve used both Vic Sotto’s and Bea Alonzo’s strengths? I’ve seen Vic Sotto in a very dramatic role, and he can pull it off. Bea Alonzo does seem to have comic timing from what I’ve seen of her work. So why weren’t these utilized in place of the cheap laughs?

If you’re going to say no one forced me to watch the movie, well, no one forced you to read this post either. And, actually, I was forced to watch the movie—by my mother who is a big Vic Sotto fan. So I’m writing these thoughts online just so I wouldn’t feel the PhP170 paid for my ticket doesn’t actually go to waste. Yes, it’s 20 pesos more expensive than Beastly, which wouldn’t bother me had the movie been any good.

But it wasn’t good. And it made me really sad listening to the people inside the full theater laugh out loud at the jokes that made fun of people’s looks, and their misfortune; and it made me even sadder that people would watch movies like this in droves, and wouldn’t watch good films, also produced locally, like Senior Year.

Is there still hope for Philippine Cinema? Or will we be subject to films like this because this is what the masses want? I’m not being pretentious. I’m not saying we should only watch quality films where we can learn. I’m all for entertainment, and escaping through means of film. But can’t we do that while maintaining some standards? Just a little bit of standards. Like, you know, not supporting comedy films that aren’t really funny if you take out all the mean things said about people who aren’t as good-looking as the lead stars.

What do you think?

movie: si agimat at si enteng kabisote

starring ramon "bong" revilla jr. and vic sottoi’ve been watching vic sotto films for as long as i remember. it’s my mom’s fault–she’s a huge vic sotto fan girl. but i don’t always complain. especially when she’s making me watching OKEY KA FAIRY KO.

back when i was a kid, i loved OKEY KA FAIRY KO. it was my first fandom. i knew the history of all the characters; how amy and bale were best friends but would fight at the drop of a hat to get a guy’s attention; how pipoy always does something wrong but boss enteng will forgive him for it anyway; and how engkantadas give birth by laying an egg.

this was my I DREAM OF JEANIE. this was my BEWITCHED.

in recent years, vic sotto had decided to give life to the characters of OKEY KA FAIRY KO once more through a yearly offering of ENTENG KABISOTE movies. but every year i would end up being disappointed.

in its heyday, OKEY KA FAIRY KO gave birth to two wonderful movies.

the first one had the main character, enteng kabisote, fighting tooth and nail to save the life of his adopted daughter. it was a magnificent movie that took down the all-powerful ina magenta, enteng’s mother-in-law, a peg or two after she reveals how important aiza (the adopted daughter) is to her.

the second one had ina magenta herself on the receiving end of a curse, and aiza had to join enteng in his journey to the world of engkantasya to find the cure that would bring ina magenta back to life. it was OKEY KA FAIRY KO coming to a full circle.

back then, the two movies were enteng kabisote’s grand adventures. after all, the weekly episodes mostly revolved around his earthly life. it was a sitcom–and i doubt it had a big budget. but it was fun, and it had one very important thing working for it: its heart.

fast forward to 2004, and we start the ENTENG KABISOTE movie franchise.

with the first movie, i was excited. at last, a new OKEY KA FAIRY KO story. but i was horribly disappointed. it was a horrible adventure movie, and to be quite blunt, it destroyed my childhood. i lost hope that the OKEY KA FAIRY KO i loved as a child would be lost forever.

the following year, my mother forced me to watch ENTENG KABISOTE II. maybe it was because i had no expectations. but i actually liked this installment. for me, it had the elements of the original OKEY KA FAIRY KO: it had the adventure element–but it was to preserve something: to save engkantasya. though, i think the reason why i thought it was a return to form was because it had heart again. it wasn’t just a silly adventure movie, it was a movie about family, and about how parents sometimes make mistakes when trying to be the best parents possible.

sadly, the third and fourth movie from the franchise was a return to the silly adventure genre.

and this brings me to SI AGIMAT AT SI ENTENG KABISOTE. for a movie that was hatched as a vehicle to put two tried-and-tested franchises together, it was actually good.

enteng kabisote’s life has been quiet since the last movie of the franchise, where satana finally fell for the last time. well, relatively quiet. he still gets into scuffles–but all of them are purely mortal scuffles. nothing magical has happened since satana’s fall, except for faye’s facial regeneration. yes, i’m using a DOCTOR WHO term for OKEY KA FAIRY KO.

all of this changes though with the arrival of agimat in engkantasya. he is chasing after a monster who is traveling through dimensions. and the monster is now in enteng kabisote’s world. chlorateam, enteng’s wife, requests for him to help agimat get around the mortal world. with agimat in the mortal world, enteng notices his jealous looks at enteng’s family. unlike his fairy wife, enteng is not too sure about agimat’s real agenda, but he still decides to help him defeat the dimension-hopping monster

it turns out though that this was just the beginning of something more sinister brewing in agimat’s world.

a blood sacrifice is needed to complete an age-old prophecy. and chlorateam is taken to agimat’s world to provide the blood needed to awaken an old evil. enteng kabisote is quick to point to agimat as the bad guy–and who can blame him? but will he be able to see past his own judgments to see that agimat is as clueless as he is to the whole thing?

SI AGIMAT AT SI ENTENG KABISOTE is mostly a laugh-out-loud adventure-comedy. but unlike its predecessors, this one has a lot of heart. it goes back to the stories about family that OKEY KA FAIRY KO was loved for, while sticking with its new genre of mostly being an enjoyable comedy of a film.

the only thing i don’t like about the film is the number of celebrities who seemed to have been placed in the movie for the sake of them being in the movie: mainly the tween stars of GMA7.

and the one thing i really liked about the movie is they lessened jose manalo’s shtick. which can get really irritating. i guess that’s what happens when you have two leading men. so whatever vic sotto’s next movie might be, i hope he gets another leading man to star alongside him, so there’s be less of jose manalo in that movie too.

before i completely finish off this post though, i want to leave a request for everyone: do check out at least one metro manila film festival entry this year. support our local film industry. there are a couple of movies that are excellent too, so if you don’t want to support the more mainstream ones, do check out films like METANOIA and ROSARIO.