The best way to enjoy Joel Ferrer’s Woke Up Like This is to treat it as an overextended reel of inane gags.
More comparable to Tony Reyes’ Love on Line (LOL) (2009), where Vic Sotto’s debonair lead switches bodies with Jose Manalo’s desperate pervert, than Chris Martinez Here Comes the Bride (2010), where John Lapus’ gay make-up artist switches bodies with Angelica Panganiban’s virginal bride, Woke Up Like This is more focused on displaying as much nonsense as possible without imposing any underlying relevance to its jokes. What essentially differentiates Martinez’s film is how it subverts the body switch trope to echo queer aspirations and sentiments, making it more than just a gag show even if it is also ridiculously hilarious.
Woke Up Like This doesn’t endeavor to make anything out of its very crass comedy. There is no underlying message to its nonsense. This isn’t exactly a bad thing since the film is very consistent in its shallow revelry. All the film wants is to jam itself with as much pranks and stunts as it can, and thankfully, a lot of its jokes are really funny.
Ever since his first feature Hello, World (2013), a coming-of-age story with more than just slivers of sophomoric raunchiness, Ferrer has displayed a talent for comedy that draws specifically from masculine experiences. Baka, Siguro, Yata (2015), about a loser who discovers that he is about to be a father, tackles a man’s overly delayed maturity with the same propensity to throw more than a few punch-lines that the distinctly masculine trait of holding on the immaturity and irresponsibility. Despite the lack of sophistication in his works, his films are refreshing in the sense that there is distinct identity to their wit and humor.
Fears and fantasies
Now the gender politics of Woke Up Like This is simplistic at best.
Both Sabrina (Lovi Poe) and Nando (Vhong Navarro) are all stereotypical representations of their respective genders. Sabrina, a commercial model, is all about beauty, while Nando, a basketball player, is mostly brawn. The comedy however is clearly more affiliated with the fears and fantasies of men. The film’s most interesting bits actually involve scenes that are humiliating for men, such as when Sabrina, in the body of Nando, is emasculated with rituals that are more associated with women, or when Nando, in the body of Sabrina, starts to appreciate and fondle the body he becomes gifted with.
Ferrer makes most of the very thin plot to spew his hilarious excesses, and the film, intriguingly, is better for them.
Crudely accomplished sight gags are plenty. Characters that have no purpose other than to carry a punch line to its completion are given valuable screen time. All sorts of logic are carelessly thrown out the window. The film almost feels like it is nothing more than a product of whim, with Ferrer and his cohorts churning out ideas that they think are funny out of nowhere and almost everything making it into the script and the final film. Almost miraculously, this very cavalier attitude towards rules and structures works very well for the film.
Bloated by a predictable moral
Woke Up Like This is a lot of boisterous fun, bloated only by its pursuit of the predictable and somewhat muddied moral of its rudimentary body switch narrative. – 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.