Saturday, January 12, 2013

Sisterakas

♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

Totoy (Vice Ganda) and Detty (Ai Ai de las Alas) are half siblings separated in childhood when her mother catches their father cheating on her with his mother, the maid. He vows to seek revenge on his father's family for treating them like dirt, something he finally gets to do when decades later he emerges as the head of one of the country's leading fashion companies where his sister, now poor and with two kids in tow, applies as his executive assistant. He does everything to make her life miserable, but suffers the consequences when Roselle (Kris Aquino), the eccentric COO of a rival fashion line, pirates Detty and takes advantage of her talent in fashion design to use against Totoy, who is presently known by the name Bernice.

I have decided to avoid Wenn Derramas' movies because I end up writing the same observations for every one of them, given his talent for rehashing everything from soap opera story lines to memorable battle cries of people bullied online. Perhaps what makes Sisterakas different is that despite the use of the very same formula, we get to witness three box-office juggernauts joining forces in one movie. It worked. The movie is now the highest grossing Filipino film of all time, overtaking Praybeyt Benjamin, which was also top-billed by Vice Ganda.

Vice Ganda is a phenomenon himself. With four movies under his belt and spanning just around three years, he could boast a really enviable box office history with all his films gaining north of 100 million, as if besting a record that he also previously held is not impressive enough on its own. Some people, including myself, would think that his brand of comedy would grow old fast and eventually lose its luster just a few years into the game, but it seems as though this would never really happen because no matter how offensive and politically incorrect he tends to be, there will always be a part of you wanting to be that frank on people who lack common sense, who are plenty nowadays. In this movie he makes fun of himself, and you have to give him credit for donning all those haute couture with credibility and drive comparable to Lady Gaga, no matter how ridiculous they both seem to appear. His brand of comedy complements that of Ai Ai well enough for this movie to be tolerable.

Ai Ai offers the same kind of self deprecating humor coupled with frequent bawling that everyone expects of her. She still benefits from playing the role of the hardworking mother, something we really love seeing her do. The difference is that aside from life, her dilemma is also humanized through Vice Ganda, and the resulting tandem is fun to watch most of the time.

Kris Aquino serves her purpose well in balancing everything between the other two leads. When Totoy gets a little too callous or you simply cannot take Detty's melodramedy anymore, Roselle appears as an effective distraction, a breather before the next spat between the siblings. As for her acting, it leaves the audience quite confused. Should you be laughing with her or at her? Is she doing a parody of herself? Was she perpetually drunk during the shoot (which is rather unlikely because she is not known to indulge on such a vice)? To lift a sentence from Jessica Zafra's review of the same movie, Kris Aquino's parody of herself is a conundrum best left to philosophers.

One thing that leaves a bad taste in the mouth, though, is how her failed marriage with James Yap is milked over and over again for whatever comedic value it is supposed to have. It is a bit hilarious at first, but easily gets exhausting as it is repeated ad nauseam. If she is indeed doing a parody of herself then this is understandable, but you cannot seem to help but think that the matter is not really something to be considered laughable, unlike her movies and endorsements, when there is actually a kid who might suffer later on because of how his parents' relationship has been turned into the butt of jokes, with the voluntary participation of the mother. No matter how public a figure might be, such issues are better left untouched and reserved for private discussion, as far as the involved parties are concerned. It is like joining the lynch mob when the subject of hatred is actually yourself.

In the end, this movie is still your typical Derramas comedy. As much as I tend to be harsh when it comes to reviewing Filipino formulaic comedies, sometimes we also have to admit that there is a part of us that will always succumb to cheap attempts on making us laugh, depending on our mood and no matter how ridiculous and nonsensical the situations might be. Yes, I am pertaining to that particular scene where Totoy pushes his mother off the stairs to reenact a past event so Detty could recall it. It was truly ridiculous, but I laughed hard. After all, this movie was made to make money. And that goal was achieved, regardless if you found it funny or not.

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