Those who can’t, spoof.
If staying true to the genre seems to be creatively and logistically impossible, then let humor be a crutch for all the shortcomings. Joyce Bernal’s Gandarrapiddo: The Revenger Squad (2017) Mike Tuviera’s Jack Em Popoy: The Puliscredibles and Barry Gonzales’ Fantastica (2018) are all half-baked about their genre aspirations, the shoddiness in the crafting and special effects seemingly adjuncts of their being a cross between a film and a gag reel.
Seems like a spoof
Tuviera’s Mission Unstapabol: The Don Identity seems like another one of those spoofs, a movie that borrows some of the familiar conceits of blockbusters like Mission: Impossible and The Bourne Identity only to forge jokes around them.
Thankfully, the film, while far from excellent, isn’t bad.
Don Roberto Fortun (Vic Sotto) has just been released from jail where he spent 20 years of imprisonment for the death of a famed treasure hunter. He is, of course, innocent and in an effort to clear his name, he recruits his chauffeur (Jelson Bay), a failed boxer (Jake Cuenca), a failed magician (Pokwang), a bit player (Wally Bayola) and a mysterious hacker (Maine Mendoza) to help him steal a gigantic pearl from his brother Benjie Fortun (Jose Manalo), who turns out to be the perpetrator of the crime he was imprisoned for.
Mission Unstapabol still teeters towards being a spoof, but what separates it from the other makeshift comedy hybrids is that it actually puts an effort in going through most of the tropes of the genre.
The film doesn’t have the most elaborate heist but it at least pushes through with it, complete with all the red herrings, the meticulous scheming and the supposedly clever twists. What really differentiates Mission Unstapabol is that Tuviera affords the genre enough respect not to reduce it to lousy punchlines.
Still quite funny
Make no mistake, Mission Unstapabol is still quite funny.
It is still predominantly a comedy, still peppered with jokes that range from bland to hilarious.
Sotto is still a charming presence. However, the film is really enjoyable because of the rapport of the supporting cast. While it is true that Bay, Pokwang, Bayola and Manalo aren’t exactly reinventing their comedy but their rapport with each other is precious. Mendoza and Cuenca’s attempt at chemistry may be paltry but at least that romantic angle adds a bit of color to the ensemble.
What is apparent is that the actors here play actual written characters instead of adjuncts to their being familiar celebrities.
Fun and somewhat innovative
Believe it or not, Mission Unstapabol is a refreshing effort from Tuviera, Sotto and their usual team.
The film doesn’t feel like a cash grab, like there’s an actual endeavor to come up with something that is both fun and somewhat innovative. It properly blends humor and genre, ending up a being genuinely pleasant surprise. – 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.