Jose Javier Reyes’ Our Mighty Yaya is a movie that has given up in both originality and ambition.
Our Mighty Yaya is unapologetically generic and predictable. Its plot feels cursory, a mere tool whose only purpose is to be a vehicle for Ai-Ai delas Alas to merge her skills as both a comedienne and a dramatic actress.
See, Virgie, delas Alas’ character, is an intrepid mother who fulfills her dream to send her son to college by working as a nanny to a family of very typical upper middle class concerns. The movie has the character to be the center of overused jokes and conventional sketches before indulging in a convenient attempt to wrap up all the silliness with a tear-jerking and bluntly moralizing finale.
In fairness to delas Alas, she works hard enough to hold the entire picture together even amid its absolute lack of surprises.
Virgie has been designed by Reyes to look unappealing. She is almost cartoon-like with her crooked front teeth protruding out of her misshapen smile, her overly humble ways and manners mismatching with everything her employer’s status in life stands for, and her simple-minded benevolence.
Thankfully, delas Alas doesn’t rely heavily on her character’s physical exaggerations. She makes most of what the meager screenplay provides her, squeezing as much as she can from all the tired punchlines and trite dramatic cues she has to convincingly sell.
Cliches and stereotypes
It won’t be inaccurate to call Our Mighty Yaya a parade of clichés and stereotypes.
Its pleasures are unabashedly pedestrian. The comedy is bereft of any sophistication. The plot is parched for nuances to make it anything other than a portrait of gross middle-class privilege and condescendence being blissfully ignored in favor of childish antics.
Interestingly, Reyes has also made a film that bleeds with so much middle-class guilt. Ano ang Kulay ng mga Nakalimutang Pangarap (2013) is also about a household help. Unlike delas Alas’ Virgie whose doting nature becomes indispensable to the family she is working for, the one in Reyes’ other film has a family that has matured enough to require her services, leaving her practically old, spent and useless to anybody else.
What Our Mighty Yaya severely lacks is a connection to reality.
The movie’s essentially a fantasy. It peddles an overly optimistic society where everybody can get along so long as everybody knows their place.
No place for cynicism
One may argue that cynicism should have no place in movies like this, but given that Reyes has already proven that he has an innate understanding of all the emotions and conflicts that pervade middle-class privilege, it will not be a stretch to expect even a semblance of that heft and gravity even in a film that is directed toward children.
Our Mighty Yaya is just too hollow to really make any impact. More importantly, it is also too humdrum and routinary to really be memorably entertaining. – 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.
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