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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 7, 2023



VIC SOTTO used to be the king of the Metro Filmfest. People flocked to his movies like “Enteng Kabisote” and “Lastikman” even if they’re mediocre fantasy-comedy movies.  

Then Vice Ganda came in 2011 with “The Unkabogable Praybeyt Benjamin” and Vic Sotto’s entries became second fiddle to Vice’s entries like “Sisterakas”, “Girl Boy Bakla Tomboy”, the sequel to “Praybeyt Benjamin”, “Gandarapido Revenger Squad”, “Beauty & the Bestie”, “Funtastica”, “Super Parental Guidance” and “The Mall The Merrier” in 2019 which became his last film since the pandemic came.  

He’s now back in “Partners in Crime” and although he has a new partner in Ivana Alawi, the type of humor remains the same. 

It’s certainly not to everyone’s taste as it caters mainly to mindless viewers who love low brow humor where there is lot of hitting and putting down each other. 

They love it when Vice insults his sidekicks like Lassie and MC Muah. 

Vice Ganda is really on his best on live TV. He is so quick witted and viewers love it when he bullies and makes fun of contestants and even his co-hosts. 

In other words, it’s comedy bar type of humor made at the expense of others. 

Ordinary viewers, who don’t really give a hoot about things like political correctness, don’t mind this at all. They laugh heartily when Vice makes fun of other people’s imperfections. 

But if most viewers might find it hilarious, more sensible ones would find it offensive. So, to each his own. 

The important thing is that Vice’s movies sell a lot of tickets and make the cash registers ring merrily.   So how can you argue with that?

No doubt Vice is still very popular, but his last filmfest entry landed second to “Miracle Cell No. 7” and now, “Partners in Crime”, is also only second to “Deleter”. Vice got a new director in “Partners”, Cathy Molina Garcia, who has made those blockbuster romcoms with John Lloyd Cruz.

Their partnership doesn’t seem to work that well. Of course, she can argue that Vice is such a big star who has his own ideas about how to make his own movies.  

So in “Partners”, she seems to be aping the comic style of the late Wenn Deramas, who catapulted Vice to box office stardom in their movies together.

Well, the formula has been proven to be very effective before, so as they say, if it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it. 

Some scenes used in past Vice films are even repeated here, like Vice tumbling and doing acrobatics on stage. And when things get so corny, they just use the fast motion technique where everyone moves frenetically to make the audience laugh.

In “Partners”, Vice plays Jack Cayanan, the popular host of a show called “Happy Hour”. 

He is losing his voice as he’s so overworked and his doctor told him to rest until his vocal chords get better, but of course, he won’t listen.

The network gets him a replacement, Barbara Nicole Rose Albano (lvana Alawi). 

Vice won’t have her and they continue to bicker so their producer told them that whoever will succeed in getting an exclusive interview with the nation’s richest man, Don Bill Libme (yes, we don’t believe you), will be retained as host.  

It so happened that Don Bill (Rez Cortez) is throwing a big party to celebrate his birthday so Vice and Ivana pretend to be a waiter and a waitress serving the guests during the affair, hoping they’ll get the chance to interview Don Bill.   

There have been other films before titled “Partners in Crime”, one an Edgar Wallace Mystery made in 1961, another one in 2000 with Paulina Porizkova, a Chinese film in 2014, and in July of 2022, an animated film with big Hollywood stars like George Clooney and Sylvester Stallone doing the voice acting.  

There was also a TV series in the 80s where two women become partners to find out who murdered their ex-husband. So the basic story of two disparate person collaborating to do something is nothing really new.  

The difference is that, in a flashback, we learn that Vice and Ivana used to be the best of friends. And in the eyes of Ivana, it’s even more than that, as she believes Vice is in love with her and that he’s her boyfriend. 

How she came to that conclusion when Vice never hid the fact that he is gay is beyond us. They had a falling out when Vice was hired as TV host and Ivana felt he neglected her. 

Ivana seems to be a top TV host also, but as to how her hosting career  prospered without Vice, we’re not told at all.

When they get to locate Don Bill, he is already dead. 

Instead of reporting it to the cops like saner people would do, they allow themselves to be used by the killer to retrieve three “coins” needed to open the vault that keeps Don Bill’s riches. 

From the very start, it is so easy to guess who the killer really is. When we watched this movie, we just saw “Glass Onion” on Netflix and it’s also a whodunit. Oh what a difference!!!!

There are many supposedly ribtickling slapstick antics before the movie reaches its boring conclusion but sorry to say, they all fall flat. 

Even the supposedly humorous banter of the cast is not funny at all. Some of them even made us cringe. All of a sudden, Vice’s voice is A-okay and they forget he’s supposed to have a very hoarse voice.

We know that we’re not the movie’s target audience and it’s not designed to win awards, but there’s really not even a single  genuinely funny scene that made us laugh, not even the bloopers in the shoot that they included in the final credits. 

What the movie succeeded in doing to us is to make us feel sad. 

We feel sad for Ivana Alawi as this is her first big movie. She’s so pretty on screen and it seems like she can be a convincing actress, but she surely deserves a better movie.  

We also feel sad for Enchong Dee. So he has come to this after being sued by a party list representative for cyber libel. We don’t think this movie can be of help to boost his moribund career at all.