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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.

Oct 19, 2016

The Third Party Movie Review: Aims To Be Nothing More Than To Be Crowd Pleasing

“THE THIRD Party” maybe about the controversial topic of homosexuality but it remains true to the goal of Star Cinema movies in being a real crowd pleaser. The film is more of drama with lots of tears, but the audience is clearly expecting more of a comedy, so they keep on laughing and laughing all throughout the movie, even in the sequences that are not really meant to elicit laughter.

The story starts in 2009. Angel Locsin is Andi, an events organizer, and Sam Milby is her boyfriend, Max, who has to leave to study medicine in the U.S.A. Angel decides it’s better for them to break up than have a long distance relationship. Sam returns in 2014 and meets with Angel, who’s obviously hoping she can win him back, but he instead introduces to her his boyfriend, Zanjoe Marudo as Christian.

Angel is shocked to find out her ex-BF is “bakla”, but Sam says he was just confused while in the U.S.A. and Zanjoe was there so they fell for each other. Zanjoe is the one who’s more openly gay while Sam claims his bisexual has yet to come out to his parents. The movie, despite its unconventional topic, is still wholesome so those who expect to see Sam and Zanjoe doing a hot love scene will be disappointed. As it is, it still got an R-13 rating and despite the gay angle, this should still be SM Cinema acceptable.

There’s a scene where they both took off their shirts and are about to make love in bed, but Angel suddenly enters their room and does a “mali-mali” act so it’s played for laughs and the audience laps it all up with glee. In another scene, Zanjoe is going out of town and he hugs Sam and kisses him on the lips goodbye. The audience really went wild and shrieked with delight when they locked lips. In all fairness, the gay characters, both doctors, are not made objects of ridicule or derision so the LGBT community will have no complaints.

It’s Angel’s character who’s not painted well in the film. It turns out she got pregnant out of wedlock and her boyfriend (Paolo Paraiso) runs away with another woman to Canada, taking all her earnings and savings with him, leaving her bankrupt. She was booted out of her apartment and goes to Sam and Zanjoe asking them to help her abort her baby. Since they want to have their own kid, they offer to help Angel throughout her pregnancy then they’ll adopt her baby so she can pursue her dream of going abroad. They even ask her to stay in the apartment next to theirs so they can monitor her.

At first, there’s a rivalry of sorts in this uncommon love triangle between Angel and Zanjoe over the attentions of Sam, but this is quickly settled and they become good friends after singing together in a karaoke bar. But there has to be some drama, so Angel turns out to have big mommy issues with her estranged mom (Cherry Pie Picache) who abandoned her as a child. She grows up with her aunt (Alma Moreno) with a mountainous chip on her shoulder. For added conflict, Zanjoe sees Sam kissing Angel, gets jealous, and tells Sam to leave their place. Angel also leaves.

But since this is a Star Cinema movie, every problem is eventually solved, as shown in their usual epilogue. Angel is reconciled with her mom. Sam goes back to Zanjoe. Sam’s parents also learn to accept that he is gay. Even Angel’s dream of becoming a fashion designer becomes a reality. And all’s well that ends well for the obligatory happy ending.

The three leads do well in their respective roles, showing good rapport with each other. Zanjoe particularly stands out as the controlling macho gay doctor who invests his role with the right mixture of restraint and dignity. He is very effective in two major scenes, his parting scene with Sam and the scene where Angel asks him: Do you miss him? And he answers with a broken voice on the verge of tears: “Araw-araw”.

Sam as the indecisive Max oozes with an easygoing charm that makes him believably gender fluid and attractive to both men and women. Angel makes her own mark in that confrontation with Cherry Pie where she realizes that she is judging her mom and yet they really have something in common: they both want to have their own child aborted. She also shows her flair for comic timing in her funny scenes.

But whereas both Sam and Zanjoe look trim and well toned on the big screen, Angel, sorry to say, looks distractingly overweight, especially in that scene where she’s wearing an unbecoming blue dress that makes her look wider than both Sam and Zanjoe. How can her fans, who are rooting for her to reprise her Darna role, honestly expect her to put on the sexy and skimpy superhero costume with her looking like this? A few more pounds and she’ll already be as chubby as Alma Moreno is in this movie.

This is ex-indie director Jason Laxamana’s most compromising foray into commercial filmmaking. All his previous films, he also wrote and directed with maximum freedom. But this time, the script was written by Star Cinema writers who follow a certain mold. The director made sure he didn’t break out of that mold and comes up with the kind of movie that Star Cinema audiences find quite entertaining.