‘S.O.N.S. (Sons of Nanay Sabel)’ review: Mother inferior

It wouldn’t really be farfetched to call Dado Lumibao’s S.O.N.S. (Sons of Nanay Sabel) a shameless riff of Wenn Deramas’ Ang Tanging Ina (2003), the grossly successful comedy about a simple mother with the humorous tenacity to raise 10 children.

Pedestrian humor

Ai Ai  delas Alas is of course the most obvious connection between the two films.

In S.O.N.S., the comedienne plays Sabel, who like Ina of Deramas’ movie, is a mother of multiple children. This time, she doesn’t start the film with a complete set of children to raise. She starts off as the bride to a wealthy prince who was quickly abandoned in the alter after it was discovered that years ago, she abandoned her 6 sons. She then decides to collect her 6 sons from the various families that adopted them and belatedly attempts to be a true mother to them.

So far so good.

The story is patently ridiculous, which isn’t exactly a problem. Ang Tanging Ina also had a patently ridiculous story but Deramas intuitively turned it into a springboard for so much hilarity. Lumibao somewhat attempts to do the same, acknowledging that there really isn’t a lot of tact and logic in a story that feels more like an afterthought to commerce.

Jokes are plenty. Some work, like the running gag early in the movie where Sabel, who is still donning her wedding gown in her quest to collect her children, loses a piece of her clothing up until she is nearly naked, with Delas Alas proving that she truly knows how to sell a punchline, no matter how vulgar and ludicrous. Sadly, most don’t. The problem isn’t really the fact that the humor is pedestrian. It is really because a lot of the jokes are either derivative or lazily written and delivered.

SABEL. Ai-Ai plays mother to 6 kids, played by the group Ex-Batallion.

SABEL. Ai-Ai plays mother to 6 kids, played by the group Ex-Batallion.

Problem rappers

The biggest problem of S.O.N.S. however is not its brand of comedy or the slightness of its plot.

Both the comedy and plot hinge on the clear intent of the movie’s existence, which is to promote The Ex Battalion, a rap group whose members play each of the 6 sons of Sabel. Individually, the rappers aren’t bad, with each of them given the opportunity to project separate identities. It is just that there is really just not enough material for the rappers to become real characters that are separate from the personas manufactured for them by their recording company.

S.O.N.S. isn’t really a film. It is a lousy skit.

There isn’t really much of an effort for Delas Alas to reprise a role that she has done so many times with Ang Tanging Ina spawning so many sequels and spin-offs. There really isn’t any endeavor for the members of The Ex Battalion to evolve their meager characters and turn themselves more into actors than rappers forced into roles.

Lumibao doesn’t really commit so much, regurgitating the same gigs and stunts Delas Alas is familiar with, hoping that the same brand of inanity will veil the creative bankruptcy that pervades his picture. In fact, the least that he could have done is to make the transitions from film to music video either seamless or kitschy, but the film just puts them there with hardly a rhyme or reason.

STRUGGLE. Sabel must keep her sons together despite the different values and ways they were raised.

STRUGGLE. Sabel must keep her sons together despite the different values and ways they were raised.

Not much fun

Simply put, S.O.N.S. is an inferior copy of Ang Tanging Ina.

There is not much fun in its nonsense. – 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.