Thursday, March 31, 2011

Catch Me... I'm in Love


Presidential son Erick Rodriguez (Gerald Anderson) heads to Isabela in the Cagayan Valley for an immersion, an idea cooked up by his father to give him a different perspective in life. Tasked as evaluator is Roan Sanchez (Sarah Geronimo), a twenty-something social worker from a big family who has never been in a relationship, and harbors a secret crush on the guy. All this happens after an unpleasant meeting earlier in the movie. Taking a hint from the title it would not be that hard to predict (in fact you do not have to predict at all, spare yourself the trouble) that the two would fall in love, face some relationship problems in the form of overwhelmingly negative public opinion (who does not love gossip?), and overcome all that to force a happy ending which comes so quickly after the obligatory chase scene that it no longer gives you time to recover from the headache you get from all the blatant clichés in the plot.

Sarah Geronimo is adorable and this is because she is not afraid to make fun of herself. Her girly giggles are contagious, and she is such an insufferable ball of sunshine. The problem with this is getting typecast. After a string of movies portraying almost the same character, how is she to grow as an actress? There will come a time when the charm will fade and people will just get tired of the whole thing. But what can she do when almost every movie coming out is of the romantic comedy genre, complete with cardboard characters and forgettable storylines. No comment on Gerald Anderson. Or maybe just this: You see Gerald Anderson on screen, not the character, although each one of his roles seems like an improvement from the last.

Matteo Guidicelli's presence is not felt at all in this movie. In fact, Sam Pinto's role is smaller but leaves more impact. The other supporting characters are even more memorable with the shorter screen time they are given. Seeing veteran actors of Philippine cinema given minute roles is good and bad at the same time. They lend the acting chops necessary to make up for deficiencies in the storyline, but at the same time you get to remember how they used to grace the big screen in iconic roles in films that once defined a glorious era when romantic comedies have not saturated the film industry just yet. Yes, the actors being referred to are Christopher de Leon and Dawn Zulueta.

Nowadays mainstream film producers just follow a rom-com template and that’s it. They also do that in Hollywood but at least you could find variety in there. It is not the same old thing every other month. Here it is one romantic comedy after another. There comes a time when you cannot even remember the titles and storylines anymore because they are all so similar. This film decides to break the mold by reusing an age-old formula: they play the social status card. He is famous. She looks like a maid, at least according to that woman in the Manila Hotel CR who does look like a maid, but is wearing a gown. This makes good entertainment but the effect is not maximized and the plot device is dismissed altogether for convenience’s sake. You got to have that happy ending.

Isabela as a setting is not maximized to its full potential. There must be other tourist attractions in that place, not just that shaky hanging bridge and that old church shown for a split second or so. Nonetheless the place seems like a good tourist vacation spot. Cebu Pacific flies to Cauayan, by the way. Plugging.

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