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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.

Jan 1, 2019

Review Of Vice Ganda's Metro-Manila Filmfest Entry, The Fantasy-Comedy 'Fantastica'

AS OF today, Vice Ganda’s “Fantastica” remains to be the number one topgrosser at the Metro-Manila Filmfest box office. A lot of people are complaining that it’s a bad movie (and we agree) but they can complain all they want and still, people will flock into it. The simple reason is that it’s Vice Ganda’s era today. It’s his season.

There was a time when the late comedian Dolphy’s movies are ruling it at the filmfest box office with movies like “Facifica Falayfay” and “Fefita Fofonggay”, but toward the end of his career, his attraction at the tills also waned. His films like “Nobody Nobody But You” in 2009 and “Father Jejemon” in 2010 failed to pull in the crowds.

 The same goes for Vic Sotto, who succeeded Dolphy. His films like “Lastikman” and ten “Enteng Kabisote” movies are all blockbusters. People complained that his movies are badly made and not really funny, but viewers still went to see them in droves. Take note that both Dolphy and Vic are both certified ladies men who have kids with different women, which makes Vice Ganda (VG) so unique as the first outed gay who is accepted by the viewing public as a big box office star.

VG’s stock soared to the stratosphere when he did “Petrang Kabayo” in 2010 and “The Unkabogable Praybeyt Benjamin” in 2011. All his other succeeding movies were blockbusters, like “Sisterakas” in 2013, “Boy Girl Bakla Tomboy” in 2014, “The Amazing Praybeyt Benjamin” (sequel) in 2015, “The Super Parental Guidance” in 2016 (this is not an even entry as the filmfest rejected it, but it earned more money and clobbered all the entries then at the tills) and “Gandarrapido: The Revengers” in 2017.

 So there’s no doubt it’s really his time to reign supreme as the top box office star in the annual film festival as no one can argue with his box office success. He’s really at the apex, the peak, the zenith of his career and popularity, so all his detractors may continue to frown on him, but in the eyes of his loyal followers, he can do no wrong and they’ll lap up with glee anything he offers to them. People may say that what he makes is trash but, time and again, he has proven that the adage that there is money in trash is true because, truth to tell, people just prefer to watch escapist entertainment that is garbage.

In “Fantastica”, Vice Ganda has found a new director that understands his kind of mean-spirited humor in Barry Gonzales, whose comic sensibility is a perfect facsimile of his former mentor who helmed VG’s movies before, the late Wenn Deramas. The humor is anything goes, very stand up comedian in style.

It seems VG himself cooks up all the shallow wisecracks and punchlines himself. They may have scriptwriters but it’s obvious that whatever joke or gag Vice Ganda thinks of, it gets included in the movie, which often resorts to preposterous slapstick and very low brow comedy that is devoid of any good taste, like making Jaclyn Jose’s name Fec and when people were rooting for her they say ”Fec Fec Fec Fec”, but since most folks don’t pronounce the letter F, it becomes Pec Pec. How inventive (or suggestively coarse) is that for you?

The jokes here have actually been seen in past VG movies, like Jaclyn Jose doing acrobatic stunts and somersaulting in the air, recycled from what VG did in “Super Parental Guidance”. As usual there are puns like Prince Pryce, Perya Wurtzbach, etc. There are spoof of scenes from past movies, like VG and partners recreating scenes from “Hows of Us”, without any rhyme or reason at basta naisipan lang isaksak sa movie kahit illogical.

 VG suddenly thought it’d be nice if he’d have a serious dramatic scene and they cook up one with him emoting with Jaclyn Jose about mommy issues. Bela Padilla appears as the evil queen, but her lines are voiced by broadcaster Gus Abelgas.

At the film’s climax, Atty. Jose Sison of “Ipaglaban Mo” suddenly shows up but sorry, the scene failed to elicit its desired effect as the viewers just smirked and didn’t really guffaw. They thought it’d also be nice if the partners of Dingdong Dantes and Richard Gutierrez would suddenly pop up and so Marian Rivera and Sarah Lahbati appear but have a really nonsense participation.

And even Richard’s son, Zion, has a cameo, playing the role of a boy who becomes a dog because of a curse. The smorgasbord casting includes three young love teams, none of whom seems promising and didn’t really contribute anything much. The only member of the cast who’s perfect for his role is Richard Gutierrez as Prince Pryce as he really looks like every inch a prince on screen.