MANILA, Philippines – In Beauty and the Bestie, director Wenn Deramas serves a dish that requires more than the usual care that he is used to.
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This isn’t just an inane comedy where most of the characters rely on improvisatory wit to veil Deramas’ lack of craftsmanship. The film, which has Vice Ganda team up with Coco Martin in a story that involves gun fights and beauty pageants, has a grander scope, notwithstanding the fact that it remains, at its core, a spectacle of silliness.
Patchwork of nonsense
Essentially, Beauty and the Bestie is about the misadventures of Erika (Vice Ganda), a photographer who was requested by her former best friend (Martin) to pretend to be a kidnapped pageant contestant who looks exactly like her. The story is a patchwork of nonsense, a circus show that puts together various disparate elements in the guise of an all-inclusive piece of entertainment.
Surely, the narrative is but a frame for which both Vice Ganda and Martin can both exhibit their skills. Vice Ganda predictably spouts jokes, while Martin confidently displays his bid at being repackaged as an action star. Nadine Lustre and James Reid, who play Vice Ganda and Martin’s siblings respectively, infuse a rather infantile romance into the mix just to complete the picture.
It is a whole lot of everything resulting to nothing. The film, despite Deramas’ earnest effort to prove that he is capable of some technical polish, is loud and lousy. The characters never really evolve into anything more than just convenient alterations of roles that all the actors have played in television. The film is creatively lazy, a shoddy attempt at masking repetitive pettiness with jokes and car chases.
Funny but monotonous
However, when the film becomes true to the fact that it is just a medley of punchlines, it sort of works. There are lengthy bits in the film that are truly funny. It surely helps that Vice Ganda is a very capable comedian who can use both his wit and his awkwardly masculine frame to deliver jokes that render parts of the film worthwhile.
Interestingly though, the film’s comedy is of a single flavor. It exploits insensitivity for humor, with a lot of its characters poking fun at each other’s physical traits and deficiencies. After a while, it gets tiring and predictable. Left with no other way to sustain the mad jumble of intentions, the film shows that it is running on fumes and becomes chaotic and insipid as it nears the finish line.
That is basically the problem with a lot of Deramas’ comedies. There is not enough meat in the humor to buoy an entire feature. At that point when things become monotonous, the audience is left scraping the bottom of the barrel for reasons to invest further in the film. Simply put, the rewards of Beauty and the Bestie aren’t all that marvelous to rationalize the discordant filmmaking one has to sit through.
Beauty and the Bestie fancies itself as the film version of a department store.
Everything is supposed to be there, from comedy and romance, to action and family values. Sadly, in its effort to put together all those intentions, it ends up brazenly confused, tied together not by a truly coherent aim but by inconsistent humor. Impotent inanity, however, can only do so much, especially if it carries on its shoulder the weight of all the film’s other failures. – Rappler.com
Francis Joseph Cruz litigates for a living and writes about cinema for fun. The first Filipino movie he saw in the theaters was Carlo J. Caparas’ Tirad Pass. Since then, he’s been on a mission to find better memories with Philippine cinema. Profile photo by Fatcat Studios