Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Vince & Kath & James


Vince (Joshua Garcia) and James (Ronnie Alonte) are not just cousins. They are the best of friends, and this despite the similarities that they simply do not share. One is athletic and is the archetype of the varsity jock every girl on campus swoons over. What the other lacks in sportsmanship, he makes up for in words, authoring a blog called Da Vinci Quotes where he pours out his love frustrations behind the comforts of anonymity. But they do have something in common, which is their crush on Kath (Julia Barretto), the pretty Miss Engineering titleholder who is as dashing in a gown and a tiara on her head as she is valuable with a wrench and screwdriver at hand. One cousin gives way to the other and acts as a bridge instrumental in setting up the couple for a budding romance, but how long can he keep up the charade when his very own feelings start to betray him and act as his very own saboteur? Will his next blog entry be entitled Follow Your Heart or Bros Before Hoes?

Oh, unrequited love. How many odes have been, are being, and will continue to be written in your honor? Vince & Kath & James has its main premise to thank for its success. Many people can easily relate to the characters because at one point in their lives, they were a Vince, a Kath, or a James, unless they did not go to school or never had a crush. That sucks, but that’s not our problem. Pop culture is replete with materials dealing with the same topic, but the level of admiration or curiosity will depend on the generation in which you belong. If you are in your 30’s, meaning social media was still in its infancy during your time of being wild and free, then this film will serve as a good case study on how modern human relations evolved with the advent of technology. How do the youth flirt nowadays? Are you having problems connecting with your adolescent child? Watch this movie and maybe get some helpful tips.

Jesus Christ, this Joshua Garcia kid is the second coming of John Lloyd Cruz. Their diction, tone of voice, and crying style are carbon copies of one another, interchangeable if you close your eyes. It’s interesting see how the uncanny similarities will play out for him. Cruz came at a time when the field was saturated by half-half hunks whose definition of acting was synonymous with baring their abs. Out of nowhere emerged the best friend next door type who cried beautifully, contagiously, reminding everyone that hey, this is what acting is all about. He was an anomaly and his timing was perfect. As for Garcia, only time will tell if he’ll play his cards right or not. In any other MMFF year with Die Beautiful out of contention, he could have been the favorite to win that Best Actor trophy. In any case, it’s always a good thing to witness the torch being passed to a new generation of actors who are capable and brimming with potential.

The Barrettos have been around for quite a while, several of them dabbling in acting with varying levels of success. But Julia Barretto must be the prettiest one yet, and could have given a younger Aunt Gretchen a run for her money. Star Magic seems to have patterned her career trajectory after that of Aunt Claudine, so one can’t help but wonder why the various attempts to launch her as a lead actress haven’t been that well-received. What went wrong? The girl has the face and the acting chops to match. But let’s leave that dilemma to her manager. Having this movie in her filmography won’t hurt her chances. After all, she and Garcia are the key element in making this film work. Alonte, on the other hand, is the weakest link, tolerable thanks to his co-stars. More acting workshops will help a great deal.

I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed this movie. In an MMFF year characterized by a paradigm shift favoring films with a predominantly indie flavor, this one sticks out like a sore thumb as the most mainstream among the bunch. Perhaps this is also the reason why it has emerged as the frontrunner in terms of box office returns. Moviegoers used to rallying behind Vice Ganda had to find something familiar to support, and Vince & Kath & James being the lone Star Cinema offering immediately fit the bill, while Die Beautiful filled the void left by Vic Sotto’s absence. It might sound ridiculous, but the network wars are still at play here, but at least we can say that the films on offer actually deserve to be here based on their quality instead of the clout of the TV station backing them up.

Vince & Kath & James is as formula as formula can get, but as one review has already stated, it’s “formula done right”. Its appeal is as universal as its premise, and is the recommended film of choice if you are looking for something light to watch this MMFF season. Even though Star Cinema opts to remain faithful to its mainstream roots, they have done a good job with this one. I’d say give the crew a bonus and keep them for a while. Who knows what more gems they can spit out after chewing the same gum that has long lost its flavor.

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