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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Friday, May 14, 2010

entry arrow12:01 AM | Angelica Panganiban is a Convincing Gay Man and Other Bridal Tales

The buzz from friends in Manila was simply too hard to ignore. Mark, for example, texted me earlier today: "You have got to see Here Comes the Bride. Angelica Panganiban is too funny!" Angelica Panganiban funny? That got me thinking.

The first time I actually heard about the film was when Chris Martinez, its director and writer, was in the beginning stages of writing it. He was in Dumaguete to screen his first film 100, and Eugene Domingo was with him. (A few months before that, he was also here to direct Mailes Kanapi in his Palanca-winning play Welcome to Intelstar.)

We were all having dinner in Basil Tree Cafe, and I had asked him, "What's next?" He said, "Well, some commercial film, a comedy. Something titled Here Comes the Bride. For Star Cinema." We both laughed. The title sounded cheesy but promising, and I thought no more of it.

Two years later, here comes the film -- and by God, it is funny. Perhaps the funniest Filipnio movie since last year's Kimmy Dora, which Chris also wrote for director Joyce Bernal. And that is saying a lot.

I had no idea, for one thing, that Ms. Panganiban would make for a very convincing gay man. Or that John Lapus could play a dandy so well -- our collective cringe-factor all part of the film's comic calculations. There are other delightful surprises in the film, with standout comic characterizations by Eugene Domingo [who is still very much a force of nature in contemporary comedy], Jaime Fabregas, and Tuesday Vargas [who probably embodies the best incarnation of Inday the Super Maid], who -- together with Ms. Panganiban and Mr. Lapus -- compose the handful of afflicted souls who, while en route to a beachside wedding, mysteriously transfer to each other's bodies in an accident of timing, geography, magnetism, and a solar eclipse.

All sorts of shenanigans ensue as each one [save for the panicking bride who understandably wants to save her wedding day] comes to terms with his or her new body -- and starts to delight in the possibilities. We've had soul switchero films before, most notably in Freaky Friday [2003] and Vice Versa [1988], but Mr. Martinez's take on that cinematic conceit does not feel like a retread at all. It somehow takes that tired gimmick, launders it with Filipino sensibility and humor, and creates something original, something crackling with sheer unpredictability.

How it all gets resolved is both satisfying and funny, and proves without doubt Mr. Martinez's storytelling inventiveness that also respects the narrative's internal logic, something that only the truest writers know about.

Just see the film, and laugh your heart out.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich