Thursday, October 27, 2011

Praybeyt Benjamin


Benjamin Santos VIII (Vice Ganda) comes from a long line of Benjamin Santos’s who have all been somewhat involved in the world of warfare, from ancestors who were mighty defenders of the motherland against the Spaniards all the way down to his grandfather, Benjamin Santos VI (Eddie Garcia) who holds a high position in the military. The tradition is broken when his father, Benjamin Santos VII (Jimmy Santos) decides to become a scientist, which results in their disownment by the clan. Years later Benjie is not just openly gay, he is out and proud, a fact that leads to a foiled reconciliation between them and his grandfather’s party who are not very tolerant of homosexuals. Behind all the family drama a civil war ensues and the grandfather is captured by terrorists. Owing to his father’s ailing condition, Benjie enlists as a soldier on his behalf, in an attempt to rescue his grandfather and win his acceptance.

There will always be two types of people going inside a cinema, the one who intends to watch the movie for what it is, and the other who sees it for what it should be. It will always be a battle between the descriptive and the normative. The one who will pepper his movie review with film theories as if making a thesis will suffer from too much understanding of the common trends that the masses seem to enjoy no matter how repetitive they are. On the other hand, those masses will never give a damn. Film theory does not make them laugh. Vice Ganda and Wenn Derramas do. So before you kill each other in a heated argument as to whether this movie is gold or trash, maybe you would like to put that in mind.

So, what is new? In this movie it seems that he has taken a sudden liking to the use of harnesses that there are so many flying scenes in here. Yes, you read that right, FLYING scenes, and many gravity defying absurdities. Because of this it is highly suggested that you see the movie in a cinema, packed with an audience, if possible. There is no going wrong with having a live laugh track. Sometimes even the corniest scene could be funny because of that. Watching it alone on DVD would lead to that common all-around observation/judgment in Tagalog that happens to be my favorite: “Parang nanggago lang.”

As for the funny scenes, it is quite surprising that the hilarious parts are the ones that involve Vice Ganda’s snappy retorts, of which people should have gotten enough by now given his daily exposure on Showtime. This is a good sign for him because it only means that he has gained a significant following which will ensure any of his future movies’ box office success. As for his acting there is nothing new to see. He is Vice Ganda playing the role of a soldier, just like he was Vice Ganda playing the role of a man who transforms into a horse in his previous movie. It really depends on the career path that he would like to take, if he wants to use vehicles like this to gain a solid fan base that would stick with him if he decides to transition into a serious actor. But this setup as an occasional actor with one formulaic comedy out every year seems to be working fine for now. It would be a win-win situation for him and the producer most of the time, more or less.

Derek Ramsey is lucky. Dramatic prowess would come in time, but for now he could enjoy the rarity of having back to back box office hits given that No Other Woman is still showing in cinemas across the country. Two consecutive blockbusters would always look good on an actor’s resume, even more so when they are simultaneously happening. It will make him more bankable, which means more projects with which he could hone his craft. Talking about box office hits, given Petrang Kabayo as a precursor, the momentum No Other Woman has set, and initial audience attendance, this one would easily cross the 100 million peso mark.

Wenn Derramas has been making movies for quite a while now and you do not have to be a keen observer to know how he operates. If you walk into that theater and expect to take your movie experience to cerebrally titillating heights, then the joke is on you. You do not order Spaghetti, expect a plate of Fetuccini, and then demand a refund because you did not like it. Anyway, enough of the preaching. It was just a personal epiphany. Watch this if you want short of two hours’ worth of fun. If you want something for philosophical analysis, there will always be a record bar selling a DVD of Inception. You have been warned.

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