Thursday, February 15, 2024

I Am Not Big Bird


Bank clerk Luis Carpio (Enrique Gil) is proposing to his girlfriend of five years only to be turned down because of his small dick and vow of celibacy before marriage that he is committed to. Feeling dejected, he turns to his two best friends for solace. July (Red Ollero) mans an internet card stall at some random highway while Macky (Nikko Natividad) is a closeted homosexual who is outed to his military officer father out of the blue after a botched hookup. Looking for an escapist getaway to avoid facing their problems in life, the trio decide to book a flight to Thailand in order to forget. They find themselves a tour guide in Prajak Tithi (Pepe Herrera) who lures them to a shady nightclub to be scammed. Things go awry when Luis is mistaken for legendary porn star Big Bird (Enrique Gil) who is wanted by his scorned business partner Deborah (Wipawee Charoenpura) for one final hit porn flick.

For millennials like us who bore the brunt of the raunchy sex comedies of the early aughts, I Am Not Big Bird feels like a nostalgic blast from the past, back when the brand of comedy available was far more risqué than the more politically correct one prevalent right now after a two decade paradigm shift to Gen-Z sensibilities. That generation might have a collective heart attack watching this film. For us, though, who ended up straddling both eras of modern cinema, what we end up with is a conflicting opinion on whether we should enjoy a style of comedy that is a remnant of the bygone era of our teenage years or shun it to conform to current norms.

In my case, I just can’t decide. I Am Not Big Bird is 50-50 for me, personally. The irreverent jokes feel like a trip down memory lane, somewhat refreshing when viewed vis-à-vis today’s more restricted cinematic landscape as far as comedy is concerned. Some make you laugh. Some fall flat. I don't really know whether I did not like this movie as much as I should have because of my altered sense of humor or because it is just a brand of comedy that I already outgrew and left somewhere in 2004. If you are in your late 30’s and have already seen the movie, let me know what you think about it.

Even then, I believe there is enough reason for the movie to not really connect to an audience because the material just seems lacking. Having seen the trailer, it makes you want to ask if a childish joke about dick size could really provide a good foundation for an hour and a half screenplay. In the end, it just doesn’t, even with lower expectations coming into the theater. It has the same energy as those Scary Movie films back then which you would gladly rewatch on streaming on a lazy Sunday afternoon, but would think twice if you had to pay 400 pesos for a ticket to see it in a cinema.

Despite the silliness of the premise, you can still unearth some interesting themes if you dig deep enough, like a critique on how the porn industry was back in the day and how it raised unreal standards of masculinity as verbalized by a Thai actor in one funny scene. Other than that, this is nothing more than your stereotypical bro sex comedy that need not be fleshed out because, seriously, it’s not that profound and does not really have to have meaning. You just leave your brain at the door and laugh as much as you can.

Perhaps our best conclusion here is to treat I Am Not Big Bird as a mere comeback vehicle for Enrique Gil to remind people that he is not dead. As an attempt to revive his career after his loveteam with Liza Soberano, it does let everyone know that he is still active. While we know that he is a capable actor, his dual character here does not really give him any favors considering the more interesting one is basically just a caricature of Robin Padilla, which in itself is already annoying. Congratulations on your comeback, but perhaps the best way to move forward is via serious indie flicks that can challenge your range even more.

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