Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Amazing Praybeyt Benjamin: MMFF 2014 Film Review

While I don't always watch movies, it's family tradition to at least pick one good Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) entry for the holidays. Though we didn't make it earlier this year due to busy schedules, we watched one. Last year, we pinned on Vic Sotto and Ryzza Mae Dizon, but this year 2014, Vice Ganda's "The Amazing Praybeyt Benjamin", a sequel to his old movie.
What intrigued me is the fact that the gap between Vic Sotto's "My Big Bossing" and this one is surprisingly large (compared last year with My Little Bossings vs. Girl, Boy, Bakla, Tomboy), as more people are waiting in line.

Now, unlike the last Vice Ganda film I've seen on the big screen (Sisterakas), this is part of a franchise / series. And yes, I've seen the first one with Derek Ramsay on CinemaOne.

Movie Watching Arrangement

While we watched the last one on exactly December 25, the cool thing about watching in the New Year is there's less crowd, but you have to be early, still. 

I had the chance to redeem an Oishi bag full of chips and snacks using my 7eleven Rewards Card, and that means our snack's already free! 

Looks like ticket prices went from 150 php to 175 php this year. It's lucky that we arrived early before the line intensifies.

Before the actual film, there were, of course, ads, but I was nowhere prepared for that Tragic Theater film trailer (starring Andi Eigenmann) - it was a bit scary but not as scary as I thought it would be (I might want to watch this film soon, the story is interesting).

As if my powers are working again, the movie theater suddenly experienced a blackout / power outage, but only around the first half of the actual film itself (in the scene where the president and Eddie Garcia are both waiting for Praybeyt Benjamin). It resumed after nearly 10 minutes or so. Is Tragic Theater begging to be watched? Yeah, probably...

Movie Cast and Plot

Richard Yap (did they intentionally pick him for his similar surname with James Yap?) is included in the series, along with Bimby Aquino-Yap (who was previously in "My Little Bossings"). Alex Gonzaga playing a maid role is just the clearest reference to "Be Careful With My Heart". 

Since I'm not a bonafide Kapamilya (I'm more of a Kapatid / TV5 or just neutral), I don't get most of the ABS-CBN exclusive jokes, except the "Boom Panes", of course. But maybe because of that, I can understand the plot better than when there's a heap of advertisements and jokes that I can understand. Overall, "The Amazing Praybeyt Benjamin" has a plot of a standard "top-grosser".

Tom Rodriguez played an exceptional role. I already knew he was an awesome actor (from My Husband's Lover, GMA-7), but playing as the terrorist boss in this film makes him 100% cooler. I wonder if MHL is also the reason why they chose him for Vice Ganda's film...

Eddie Garcia, despite having only a short role, is very reminiscent of most of his former action-comedy film roles, especially the last ones we've seen on PBO (Pinoy Box Office channel), "Andres Manambit". 

But one remarkable difference with other previous MMFFs I've seen (notably Vic Sotto's films) is the lesser amount (or less obvious amount) of advertisements (I only remember seeing Star Mobile and Nice Day Coffee and they weren't even completely focused upon, being true to the plot).

A great element of the movie is the modern technology - weapons of Vice Ganda's group, e.g. firecracker missiles from headgear and fans, as well as his parents' brief age regression to look like Angel Locsin and Luis Manzano. I also like the fact that the terrorist group of Tom Rodriguez was named "UTO-UTO" and him being "Janjaranjan".

The punch line delivery is pretty much scattered, unlike other MMFF top-grossers I've seen so far. You know, even when the scene is so sad, you just hear some random joke from Vice Ganda and the mood suddenly turns around. Maybe this is why more people loved it. In fact, my mom and little bro got interested with this film because of the scene in the trailer where Vice Ganda spits out a line from the Megastar and Richard Yap is like "Sharon"? And in comes the Lucky Me! Spicy Beef commercial line, Cuneta-style: "I labuyo!"

Unexpected Surprises

Spoiler Alert: if you haven't watched the film, skip to the next section.

I just didn't expect the Plants vs. Zombies part to come out, since the game seems to be outdated now (I thought they would reference Elsa/Frozen instead). Most of the punch lines are also new to me, making them great stress relievers. 

However, I was really shocked how and why Richard Yap was able to say this crack line to Vice Ganda: "Gusto mo, paputukan kita?", since they are, after all in the military, and in comes Vice's wishful thinking and wonderful imagination.

Also, as if my powers are working again, I was randomly wondering things like "I wonder if they're gonna reference any Wattpad stuff", and guess what - James Reid (Cross Sanford of "Diary ng Panget") appeared in the ending, hinting for, perhaps, a part 3? If this is gonna be true, then believe me - this will be another landslide victory next year, due to DnP/JaDine's success.

Another hint of my so-called powers is the fact that we've just recently watched an Eddie Garcia film before we went to the mall ("Judge Max Asuncion: Hukom Bitay"), and we saw the man himself on the film. Unfortunately, his fate ended the same as "Andres Manambit", to whom which he's done an action-drama film on (and a movie we've also recently watched on PBO some time ago). Sad to say, just knowing about the passing away of Vice Ganda's grandpa not only makes this scene in the movie a prediction, but also touches my heart, since I miss my grandpa, too, in heaven. (unrelated side note: Avril Lavigne's song, "Slip Away" makes me cry a lot, too, since it's dedicated to her deceased grandpa as well).

Spoilers end here.

Final Thoughts

Overall, "The Amazing Praybeyt Benjamin" is still a good laugh when you're in a stressful world. I Googled my horoscope for this year and I mostly get things like "you'll be successful in your career but you'll overwork yourself and need to fix relationships" and that kind of thing is happening already. I'm afraid that I might turn cold soon, due to my current personal challenges in life. So somehow, this film, in which Vice Ganda's sudden vanity due to fame becomes the very source of his eventual downfall, reflects my life now (actually a lot of my fandoms and things I've watched/read directly and coincidentally reflect my current life situation) and maybe telling me to get things fixed and at the same time, take it easy and get help from people I trust the most, slowly finding my way back.

MMFF and Beyond

I really do wish I have a lot of time to go into movie marathon mode. I would like to watch all of these Metro Manila Film Festival 2014 films (e.g. My Big Bossing, Kubot: The Aswang Chronicles 2, Bonifacio: Ang Unang Pangulo), as soon as they become available, as well as the MMFF entries of the past years and other quality Filipino films - I'm pinning for 10,000 Hours, RPG Metanoia, Dayo, Urduja (despite its obvious Disney-esque art-style), and many others. I'm also considering Tragic Theater, as well as most of the Shake, Rattle and Roll films (since I love horror stories not for the gore, but for the plot twists). 

And last, but not the least, I just hope 2015 MMFF will not increase ticket price to 200 pesos, because I don't know if my wallet can take that much spending.

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