Thursday, June 2, 2016

¿Qué culpa tiene el niño?

Some hangovers last for nine months. Such is the case when Maru (Karla Souza) finds out a month later that the drunken one night stand she had at her friend’s wedding party has resulted in an unexpected pregnancy. Not remembering who the father is, she enlists the help of her two best friends who are quick to review the photos that they took of the event. They all conclude that the father must be Renato (Ricardo Abarca), a 21-year old bachelor who neither studies nor works and still lives at his mother’s house. When he finds out that he is about to become a father, he is ecstatic. She isn’t. She opts for an abortion but backs out at the last minute, and decides to raise the baby on her own. Forced by her parents to marry in order to save face, she obliges, but makes it clear to him that it is all for show. He, on the other hand, is falling in love with her every day, and uses the baby as a constant excuse in an attempt to make everything real.

There is nothing much to expect with regards to the storyline. By now, you would already have seen a dozen or so movies with a similar premise, and we all know how they end. Predictability is not really an issue here as the trailer is already a clear indication that the movie will be relying on old tricks from the book to move the plot forward. Such movies are meant to be enjoyed, which is why they tend to focus more on making the dialogues hilarious, as well as choosing a strong support cast to take care of all the laughs.

Renato gets the better deal in terms of character development. You don’t have to pay that much attention to realize how everyone keeps making jabs at his immaturity, but as the film progresses, so does his character. Sure enough, the maturity issue is evident all throughout, but you see the effort he puts to become a better person, so as to be a good parent to his unborn kid. The video he makes in the end is probably the highlight. Isn't it simply beautiful to witness fatherhood change someone for the better?

As for Maru, she got the short end of the stick, focusing instead on her relationship with her husband and how she eventually gets off her high horse and admits to herself that she has, indeed, ended up falling in love with him too. It would have been more poignant to see her character progress through the lens of motherhood, but they just did not go that way, perhaps to emphasize the impact of the parenthood angle on Renato’s character. As such, it could even be argued that this film is all about him, instead of the other way around.

The challenge for the lead actors, as far as the acting department is concerned, is not really that demanding. For formulaic romantic comedies like this, all you really have to do is come up with a good looking pair, have him take his shirt off, have her put on a skimpy bikini, and let them run around and chase each other at the beach. This would be unfair to Souza and Abarca, though, because despite their cliché attack on the roles that they portray, they do have shining moments which make you appreciate their characters even more, particularly in the few drama scenes here and there that are convincing enough to elicit an emotional reaction.

As for the twist, it is rather tricky. If you are familiar with other films and TV shows with the same theme, you’ll find out that such plot device has already been used ad nauseam, which is maybe why it comes as a genuine surprise because you thought they would no longer take that direction. But in fairness to the screenwriter, the twist is utilized and timed well enough that it actually strengthens the story’s denouement, leading to a conclusion that does appear a little bit contrived, but touching nonetheless.

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