Review: Ang Tanging Ina Nyong Lahat (2/5)

PEP Review: Ang Tanging Ina Ninyong Lahat (Unedited)
by Fidel Antonio Medel

When “Ang Tanging Ina” was released in 2003, everyone was taken by surprise. Back then, Ai-Ai de las Alas was no Judy Ann Santos or Sharon Cuneta who can topbill a movie all on her own. But armed with spontaneous goofs and inventive spoofs, “Ang Tanging Ina” made millions in the box office – a solid 178.82 million pesos to be exact, making it the highest-grossing Filipino film during that time. (“Sukob” dethroned it in 2006 after raking in 186.41 million pesos.) After five years, a not-so-successful boob tube spin-off, and another “Ina” movie (“Ang Cute ng Ina Mo”), Star Cinema revamps the franchise with the sequel “Ang Tanging Ina Nyong Lahat”.

De las Alas returns as Ina Montecillo, the single mother of 12. Most of the original cast reprises their roles. Eugene Domingo plays the wacky but supportive best friend, Rowena. While the siblings were played by: Carlo Aquino as Dimitri, Alwyn Uytingco as Pip, Shaina Magdayao as Severina, Serena Dalrymple as Cate, Jiro Manio as Shammy, and Yuki Kadooka as Ten-Ten. Meanwhile, Marvin Agustin (Juan), Nikki Valdez (Tudis), Heart Evangelista (Portia), and Mark Acueza (Sixto) did not reprise their roles. Agustin and Evangelista are now contract stars of GMA, while Valdez and Acueza have retired from show business. However, Ina explains their whereabouts during the film’s opening sequence.

Faced with the same dilemma she had in Part One, Ina struggles to make both ends meet for her family but Lady Luck doesn’t seem to be on her side. She unwittingly sabotages every chance she gets to secure a stable job. So she continues to jump from one odd job to the next as fast as reality shows churn out new TV stars. But there’s more to being a mother than just being an income provider. All she wants is for her children to be proud of her. Ina soon finds herself as a chambermaid in the Malacanan Palace and eventually the president of this 80+ million strong nation. How it happened is for you to find out.

For a movie about the president, it is inevitable for “Ang Tanging Ina Nyong Lahat” not to have political undertones but director Wenn Deramas and screenwriter Mel del Rosario stayed away from such. Being satirical never fails to give comedies a deeper meaning, that beneath the surface of humor and folly lays genuine societal problems. This could have worked for the film’s benefit, but Deramas merely scratched the surface and took the safe route. Instead, it genuflected to the colorful past of Philippine politics, making pop culture references to snap elections, special treatment to convicted ex-politicians, and Pinoy’s obsession with People Power revolutions.

In lieu of the insanely funny spoofs from Part One, the screenwriter borrows salawikain’s from text jokes and joke books such as “ang batang masipag, paglaki pagod” and “aanhin mo pa ang mala-palasyong bahay kung hindi ka naman doon nakatira” to be used as quotations uttered by Ina. Is it too much to ask for original jokes these days? The script is not weak per se, it is the inclusion of corny jokes, so corny they can make you cringe, that ruined the material’s potential of fully taking flight. And don’t get me started on the overuse of slapstick humor. Slapstick is so ‘90s. Nobody laughs at slapstick anymore. But as the old folks say, old habits die hard.

One of the perennial excuses of comedy films for going over-the-top and out-of-sync with reality is that they are… well… comedies. But that shouldn’t be the case. Funny comedies hinge on reality and borrow humor from real life. A good comedy knows how to maintain its sanity despite its quirks. It keeps itself grounded on our version of Earth, not on the version of Earth where a president could easily fly to the Middle East and bring the Arabs bottles and bottles of distilled water in exchange of oil, or do the Sundance till it rains to make the Arabs happy and give the country more free oil. There is a thin line that separates being funny and being ridiculous. “Ang Tanging Ina Nyong Lahat” ends up on the wrong side of the demarcation line. Even ordinary moviegoers would raise their eyebrows in disbelief on how absurd things are panning out.

Stripping the film down to its core, the real gift of “Ang Tanging Ina Nyong Lahat” are the performances. No doubt that Ai-Ai delas Alas is one of the most versatile actresses today. She embodies what the character asks for. Playing a character as comical as Ina, it is not impossible to reduce her to a mere caricature. But through de las Alas’s understanding of the demands of this character, she made Ina a three-dimensional character capable of giving selfless love and making mistakes. Eugene Domingo also puts her game face on as Ina’s sidekick. She has a natural gift of humor. She could play a cactus and still be funny. Whenever this duo is together, the screen lights up with unanimous laughter and cheers

One of the funny scenes in the movie is when Ina and Rowena caught Jeffrey, played by John Pratts, visiting Severina in their humble abode (If you’ll remember, Jeffrey used to date Portia. In this sequel, Jeffrey allegedly broke Portia’s heart and is now out to get Severina.). The best friends confronted Jeffrey and asked him to stay away from Severina. Ina says, “tutuhugin mo ba ang mga anak ko.” Then Rowena suddenly butts in, “at sino ang isusunod mo, ako?” That was hilarious.

Although the supporting cast isn’t given much to do, they have their own little moments to shine. Another funny scene is during the confrontation between Dimitri and Pip after the former found out that the latter has a sex scandal currently on circulation. Dimitri says, “kayo talagang mga bakla, salot!” Without hesitation, Pip answers back, “I may be a slut, but I’m the best slut in town.” “Tanga! Salot ang sabi ko, hindi slut,” Dimitri exclaims.

Deramas and del Rosario stick to the formula that made its predecessor a runaway blockbuster hit, combining a hefty dose of comedic stunts and a hint of family drama just enough to wet our hankies. The film could have experimented a bit to shake things up. But as it is, it is good to know that the charm of de las Alas and Domingo hasn’t worn off one bit.

* published in Philippine Entertainment Portal’yong-Lahat

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There is nothing to tell - keep silent not to litter a theme.


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