MANILA, Philippines – On opening day the lines were long, and throughout the movie the audience was involved and responding to the events of the film.
Interesting to think that it was a book adaptation. Then again it wasn’t just any book, but Ramon Bautista’s hilarious “Bakit Hindi Ka Crush ng Crush Mo?“
In the film we get just the right mix of big studio production, love-team “kilig” romance, and the wit and distinct humor of Bautista. All these things come together to make a fun, funny, and entertaining romantic comedy.
The setup of the film is familiar, and it borrows from both local and foreign tropes. At the start we watch as Kim Chiu’s Sandy, a bright if somewhat tacky or unrefined young woman, is unceremoniously dumped by her boyfriend.
The scenes, which play the tragedy for hilarity, are cut against the introduction of Xian Lim’s Alex, the scion of a rich family who has recently had his heart broken.
Watch the trailer here:
We know, not only from their current status as one of the most popular love teams, but also in the way the film telegraphs developments, that these two will invariably end up together.
They are brought together because of a failing music label owned by Alex’s family. Sandy is the company’s best employee, while Alex is tasked by his grandfather to keep the company alive.
For all the time spent discussing the music business and Alex’s attempts to revitalize the company, a lot of it is pretty generic. Dialogue is spewed about new media marketing and it isn’t terribly interesting or engaging.
Pretty much the same can be said of Alex’s character as well. He is a generic, good-looking, rich guy.
He’s got some daddy issues, and hides some artistic sensibilities, but for the most part, he is a character we’ve seen before and Xian Lim struggles to make him distinct or likable.
I know the looks will be enough to sell him, but considering a lot of the other work the film puts in, some more interesting touches could have elevated the character.
It is Kim Chiu’s performance that really brings this movie to life. Her comedic timing is impeccable, she’s got natural charm going for her, and she commits to each and every gag.
While we’ve seen the ugly duckling schtick before, Chiu finds a way to play it new. She isn’t as good with drama as she is with comedy, but on the whole it’s a great performance.
Providing great backup were some of the supporting players. I particularly liked Chiu’s family. EJ Jallorina turns in a great performance as Chiu’s brother, not only with the big moments he has with Chiu, but even in the small gestures and background work.
A scene where he and Chiu send text messages and get hyper over the replies is memorable, and it’s just a small bit of the impact he made with his limited screen time.
Pokwang, as Chiu’s mother, has a particularly strong scene toward the end. A problem of the film is that it has some big emotional scenes in the third act that lack preparation or motivation.
But sometimes the actors play them strong enough, such as that stirring scene with Chiu, Jallorina, and Pokwang.
I was also a fan of the peanut gallery that the movie incorporates, kind of a group of backups and hecklers who add a voice and seeming audience participation.
People swoon in the theater at the big “kilig” scenes, and the movie anticipates this and incorporates a peanut gallery to swoon with them. It works for a lot of laughs, especially some of the funny non sequiturs that get thrown out.
Where the movie works best is in its ability to play with different kinds of humor. Ramon Bautista is hilarious, and if you aren’t a fan yet I suggest you read the book, watch his stuff like “Tales from the Friend Zone,” and catch up.
He is one of the country’s best humorists, and I enjoyed how this major studio film managed to incorporate that humor to reach a larger audience.
Bautista’s appearances throughout the film are something to look forward to, and I hope he does more films that showcase his humor.
Watch an episode from ‘Tales from the Friend Zone’ here:
“Bakit Hindi Ka Crush ng Crush Mo?” is entertaining throughout. There are moments that might make you raise an eyebrow at the start, but once you get the humor it is going for, you can buy into all of it.
Some elements might seem too familiar, so credit goes to director Joyce Bernal for reworking them and making them fun to watch.
The observations about love and its ironies are sometimes painfully blunt, but that all works within the film’s story and humor.
It’s a fun time at the movies, and anyone looking for a laugh or a fun rom-com will enjoy it. – Rappler.com
Carljoe Javier is at the faculty of English and Comparative Literature at UP. He is also an author, and among his books are “The Kobayashi Maru of Love,” the new edition of which is available from Visprint Inc. His upcoming “Writing 30” will be available as an ebook at amazon, ibookstore, b&n, and flipreads.com