Happiest movie of the summer
April 19, 2006
By Paul Daza
AFTER a string of repetitive, formulaic “kilig” movies, how wonderful and refreshing it is to see the inventive new Star Cinema comedy, “D’ Lucky Ones.” A wacky story about two Vilmanians—Lea (Pokwang) and Tina (Eugene Domingo)—who use their obsession with the Star for All Seasons to cope with personal problems, “D’ Lucky Ones” is one rare Tagalog movie that delivers exactly what it promises, and more. It’s not merely the happiest movie of the summer, it’s the happiest movie of many seasons.
Much of the movie’s publicity is centered on real-life lovers Sandara Park and Joseph Bitangcol. Based on audience reaction, however, the movie belongs to the two comedians playing their drama queen mothers. Watching Pokwang and Eugene have a grand gay time with their hilarious but straight-faced interpretations of drama icon Vilma Santos is truly one of the year’s most unexpected pleasures.
In the wake of the scene-stealing antics of Eugene Domingo and Pokwang, the supporting cast barely
has an opportunity to make an impression. Candy Pangilinan’s best line, in which she says that impersonator Jon Santos looks like Vilma but sounds like Ralph Recto, gets only a polite laugh in the theater because it’s been played to death in the TV trailers. As a hunk named “Ralph” whom Lea and Tina are lusting after, JR Valentin doesn’t rise above the story’s limited demands on his character. He was far more effective as the crush of Maximo in “Ang Pagdadalaga Ni Maximo Oliveros.”
Press releases aside, Sandara Park and Joseph Bitangcol have a long way to go before they can become the next Maricel Soriano-William Martinez tandem. Though Sandara Park appears more comfortable and relaxed here, compared to prior screen outings, her partner Joseph Bitangcol looks like he’s constantly acting, always aware of a camera recording his performance, killing any opportunities for spontaneity.
Good thing, though, that the jokes come quickly and abundantly, making it easy to gloss over other rough spots. More often than not, the manic, breathless pacing doesn’t even give viewers enough time to giggle before the next joke is already being set up. If few get the allusions to “Pahiram Ng Isang Umaga” or “Sister Stella L,” there are spoofs of more recent Ate Vi blockbusters like “Anak” and “Bata Bata Paano Ka Ginawa?” for younger viewers.
Under the assured direction of Wenn Deramas, who spoofed Star Cinema’s blockbusters in “Ang Tanging Ina” and who now mines Vilma Santos’ classic flicks for more comedy gold, the gags in “D’ Lucky Ones” are more visual than verbal, relying more on performance than on scripted dialogue. Just seeing Domingo and Pokwang try to dress and look like their idol is enough to plant a smile on your face for minutes at a time. Still, there are some witty verbal gems, like Domingo’s admission to Pokwang that it’s not true she kept a slumbook while in high school … because she never went to high school!
Praise is also in order for the sunny cinematography of Sherman So and Nancy Arcega’s rainbow-colored production design for actualizing the movie’s upbeat tone. Their work makes the world of “D Lucky Ones” look like it was shot from the point of view of a cheerful, optimistic child.
Credit should be given to writers Rose Colindres and Ted Boborol, who had the smarts to use the main characters’ love for Vilma Santos’ movies not just as a gimmick, but as an integral part of the story. Pokwang’s revelation to Sandara about how Vilma’s movies helped her survive a terrible life in Korea was an unexpectedly moving insight on entertainment’s remarkable power to bring joy to the joyless. Now isn’t that exactly what we need?
April 20, 2006
Film review of D' Lucky Ones from Inquirer.