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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Dec 29, 2010

Why Ai Ai delas Alas beat Jennylyn Mercado in MMFF Awards

THE FIRST "Tanging Ina" is a wacky farce about a singlemother with ten children sired by four different fathers who all died. It has some moments of inspired lunacy that made it quite endearing. In comparison, the sequel, "Tanging Ina Ninyong Lahat", where the mom became the country's president, was so badly written and directed we weren't able to stand it and walked out of the theater without finishing it. The third one, "Tanging Ina Mo Rin", is somewhere in between the two: not as good as the first one but not as unbearable as the second. Ai Ai delas Alas is lucky that it has no standout competitor among the other filmfest entries so it's not surprising that it harvested many of the trophies at the recent filmfest awards night.

The movie, just like Ai Ai and her best friend Eugene Domingo's acting, is a no-holds-barred hodge-podge of buffoonery, hysterical and slapstick efforts to make people laugh, unabashed melodrama and other over-the-top cinematic ploys at clowning aimed to please the crowd. Although some of these tricks fall flat on its face (like Ai Ai trying to stop son Marvin Agustin from what she thinks is an attempt to commit suicide from a rooftop billboard), there's no doubt the movie succeeds in achieving its intentions to tickle the viewer's funny bone.

It's not surprising that Ai Ai won as best actress as she's given so many acting highlights. To show how good she is in comedy, she parodies Venus Raj "major major" moment at the Miss Universe Pageant and even disrobes totally in a scene in an X-ray room (she's the former president of the country and we doubt if Gloria Arroyo would allow herself to be subjected to such an indignity).

To display how versatile she is and also adept in drama, she is made to deliver long dramatic arias (particularly in that special healing mass for her led by a Mike Velarde religious leader played by Andoy Ranay) while shedding copious tears. How can she lose with such a well rounded, multi-faceted performance compared to Jennylyn Mercado's anemic interpretation of Rosario?

But the movie's moment of glory may well be confined only to the filmfest. Because in the annual award-giving derbies, it would surely pale in comparison to a much more superior kind of comedy like "Here Comes the Bride", where Ai Ai will also have very tough rivals in Angelica Panganiban and Eugene Domingo who give truly rollicking laugh-out-loud performances in this hilarious tale of multiple body-switches.