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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, 2017

Dedma Walking Movie Review: A Hilarious Romp That Shares Valid Insights About Love, Friendship And Family

LAST YEAR, it was “Die Beautiful” that told the story of two gays who happen to be the best of friends. This year, the movie about gays, friendship and death that you should not miss is “Dedma Walking”, the impressive directorial debut of Julius Alfonso, former assistant director to the likes of Chito Rono and Joel Lamangan who seems to have truly learned a lot from his mentors when it comes to engaging storytelling.

Based on a Palanca Award-winning script by Eric Cabahug, whose portrait is seen in a wake scene and who cooks up some witty lines and situations, the movie is actually a con film and it’s a real crowdpleaser. It’s a lot of fun for all sorts of viewers and the first comedy we’ve seen for quite a while that really succeeds in making us LOL (laugh out loud) several times. The story is about John (Joross Gamboa), a rich closeted young executive whose mom is a former beauty queen, and his close friendship with Mark (Edgar Allan Guzman), a more openly gay theatre actor who performs in drag.

John learns that like his mom who died of the big C, his own days are also numbered. To find out how family and friends truly regard him, he asks Mark to help him stage his fake death and the subsequent wake. At first, Mark won’t tolerate his ideas but John convinces him in a well executed montage showing how they plan to stage the fake death, also the wake with its closed casket and the cremation that follows.

John and Mark breaks a lot of rules and this leads to a chain of events that propel the plot forward and which you wouldn’t want to miss. As a con man, John attends his own wake disguised as a balikbayan transgender who is mute. Complications occur when John’s sister, Ate Mary (Dimples Romana), return home during the wake.

The film is primarily a comedy, but has valid layers of drama about friendship and family relationships in it, particularly when one character discovers that the friend he trusts so much has somehow betrayed him. The confrontation scene where the erring party is branded as “ahas” is surely well acted, also quite touching and heartfelt at the same time.

In caper films like this that involves people deceiving other people, the characters have to be lovable rulebreakers for the viewer to side with them. The key is the inclusion of humor as their act of deception is played out. This makes you somehow root for them, anxious to see if they could successfully carry out their schemes and get away with it.

The film’s kind of humor is anything goes, ranging from pa-cultured effect with black and white film clips of an arty French movie starring Eugene Domingo probing into the mysteries of life and love (which actually means you don’t have to take the film too seriously), to pandering to gay viewers with scenes showing scantily clad young men, to unexpected wisecracks like when John asks his goodlooking doctor (Bobby Andrews): “Kailan naman kaya kita matitikman?”

It also makes fun of Pinoy gays’ obsession with beauty queens. There’s a scene showing former beauty queens parade before John and Mark while they are sighing in awe as they see past title holders like Evangeline Pascual and Desiree Verdadero. But this sequence is topped by Carmi Martin’s riotous appearance as the chief rival of John’s mom (Bing Pimentel) in past pageants.

Carmi and her assistants telling John “Condolence” is very funny, but it seems the joke is lost on the audience who obviously doesn’t know that the word always comes with an S in the end. There’s also a twist in the ending that we didn’t see coming. We initially felt quite uncomfortable with this unforeseen contrivance, but we have to concede that its sense of irony really made the movie cloyingly bittersweet.

Of course, the movie will not work without the endearing performances of Joross and Edgar Allan. They have played a lot of gay roles before on film and TV but in, hindsight, those projects now seem to be mere rehearsals that trained them well for this one. They have great comic chemistry on screen and Joross is splendid, but it’s Edgar Allan who shines more brightly simply because he has the more flashy, more flamboyant role, making him run away with the lion’s share of laughs. As a drag queen, he also figures in some well staged song and dance production numbers, giving him an edge, exposure wise.

The movie also boasts of the presence of so many guest stars. Aside from Uge, there’s Piolo Pascual, Direk Joel Lamangan (what a riotous cameo), Carmi Martin, Iza Calzado, Gerald Anderson, Vin Abrenica, Wendell Ramos, Angelu de Leon, Marco Alcaraz, Sue Ramirez, Ricky Rivero, Matt Evans, among others. Don’t leave the theatre right away as some of them appear in the end credits which also feature some hilarious bloopers.