Paano Na Kaya Sticks to the Formula

It’s been more than a year since PEP asked me to attend a premiere of a mainstream movie. Lately, my assignments in PEP have been confined in the independent circuit, so being in the spacious SM Megamall Cinema (instead of UP Cine Adarna where indie films usually hold their premiere nights and press screenings) breaks the habit. In Cine Adarna, I usually get seated next to tabloid reporters who have an opinion on every single scene, nitpicking on the most trivial aspects of the film. During the premiere of Paano Na Kaya, it’s refreshing to sit beside pubescent female fans who screamed at the top of their lungs every time the on-screen personas of Kim and Gerald threw flirtatious glances to each other. The pandemonium is contagious. Well, almost.

In Paano Na Kaya, May (Kim Chiu) and Bogs (Gerald Anderson) are inseparable best friends. Bogs is committed to Anna (Melissa Ricks), a headstrong career woman. On the eve of their first anniversary, Anna breaks the bad news: she’s in love with her boss. May, who secretly loves her best friend, finds a glimmer of hope. Being the ever-supportive friend that she is, she helps Bogs cope with his heartache. When May finally confesses her true feelings, the game changes and the best friends turns into lovers.

As the first act comes to a close, the classic story of best friends in love takes a turn to explore the dynamics of a rebound relationship. This is the part when the narrative picks up. Anna left Bogs because she thinks he isn’t driven or mature enough. He soon realize that he has a lot of growing up to do and finally put his talent with tinkering cars to good use. May helps him secure a loan and set up a car repair shop business. We can’t help but think that Bogs is doing all these to prove Anna wrong, to prove that he is driven and mature. It’s as if his past relationship is taking precedent over his present love without him even knowing. But what if his former flame returns? Can he resist her? Or will he ditch his new love?

Paano Na Kaya has a meaty story to tell, but it suffers from a lack of focus. The entire first act, which romanticizes the idea of best friends falling in love, could have been written off completely. We had enough best friend romances since the salad days of Jolina and Marvin.

Having watched plenty of Star Cinema films, I can’t help but notice the studio’s adherence to their formula. They know what makes the movie-going public tick, so they employ the same strategies to elicit the same reaction. The formula is starting to wear off and soon the audience will get tired of seeing the same tricks being played on them over and over again. Let me enumerate a few staple elements in most of the romantic offerings of Star Cinema.

  • The lead actor will take his top off at one point of the movie.
  • As a secondary conflict to the love story, the characters will have to deal with a family issue – may it be with their strict dad, negligent mom, or abusive kin.
  • There will always be a song montage featuring the theme song, which also happens to be the title of the movie.
  • The theme song will be played one too many times in piano version, ballad version, instrumental version, etc.
  • The first kiss is always stolen. Either the guy or the girl will suddenly jump into the other to steal a kiss. This will happen while the two are not yet ‘officially’ together.
  • The make-up kiss happens just before the end credits roll, usually after a long and hearty dialogue. Most of the times, it is a torrid kiss unless the main actress is pa-tweetums.

Since I’ve been watching a lot of indie films with modest productions, watching the glossy and polished Paano Na Kaya is a welcome change. You will notice that a lot of thought had put on set design, wardrobe, location, make-up, etc. The celebrities look good on every frame. Every once in a while, I can hear the female fan next to me saying: “parang model si Kim” or “ang pogi-pogi naman ni Gerald”. The scenes are likewise grand. One confrontation scene happens on top of a fire truck overlooking a neighborhood that was turned into ashes. The dialogue speaks in metaphors as Anna and Bogs compare their relationship to a house that has been burned.

I had my reservations with how far Kim and Gerald can stretch their acting muscles. I always thought of Kim as a hammy actress. Though this is not a breakthrough performance, I admit that I was impressed. Kim flaunts her range. Guided by her instincts, she is slowly turning into an elegant performer. Unfortunately, the same thing can’t be said to Gerald. The supporting cast is composed of Zsa Zsa Padilla, Ricky Davao, Rio Locsin, Rica Peralejo, Bernard Palanca, Robi Domingo, Alwyn Uytingco, Jon Avila, IC Mendoza, Cai Cortez, Janus Del Prado, and Empoy Marquez. These stars are decent in their little roles, though I feel sorry that they were underutilized.

Paano Na Kaya has a lot of merits. It’s a dramatic love story that echoes the virtues of moving on and growing up. If only Star Cinema would do away with the formula, I would be singing more praises. But as it is, this escapist piece of entertainment will please fans.

Rating: 2/5

* published in PEP.


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