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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 9, 2016

All You Need Is Pag-Ibig: All About Love But Is Difficult To Love

‘ALL YOU NEED IS PAG-IBIG’ is not as good as ‘That Thing Called Tadhana’ or ‘Relax, It’s Just Pag-ibig’, but we really cannot blame writer-director Antoinette Tadhana for this unimpressive piece of work from her. After all, it’s common knowledge that the project was ‘urong-sulong’ because Kris Aquino couldn’t make up her mind if she’d do it or not. In the process, they added additional cast members and when Kris finally said she’d do it, they were already pressed for time and the movie, for all intents and purposes, is actually a quickie. We heard they were still shooting one week before opening date.

We think it’d have been better if they no longer pushed through with the movie anymore, simply because Star Cinema has everything to lose. Imagine, they have placed so many of their aces here like Kris paired for the first time with Derek Ramsay, then there’s also her son Bimby Yap, the granddaughters of Charo Santos, the comedian Pokwang whom they’re grooming to replace Ai Ai de las Alas as their new Queen of Comedy, the love team of Kim Chiu and Xian Lim, and they also added Jodi Sta. Maria and Ian Veneracion whose love team is said to be very hot these days because of their exposure in “Pangako Sa’Yo”. And then the movie bombed. How sad, isn’t it?

Obviously, viewers more prefer seeing Kris screaming her lungs out and being scared out of her wits by ghosts at Christmastime, which is why her past MMFF entries like “Dalaw”, “Segunda Mano” and “Feng Shui 2” are all mammoth hits. Here, they don’t buy her being a love guru who throws a badly acted drunken tantrum at the movie’s opening scene, much to the shock of Boy Abunda who plays himself. Boy was so persuasive in his looking shocked as his role required or maybe he was really shocked by the bad performance of his co-star.

This is a smorgasbord movie and that’s something really hard to do. Locally, the most successful movie of this sort is “Radio Romance”, also from Star Cinema and directed by Joey Reyes. It has never been duplicated since then. Maybe, if she were given more time to polish her work, Antoinette could have come up with a better movie, but she was really so pressed for time. In all fairness to her, there are some good sequences, but generally, the movie has lots of gaffes and gaps.

Kris plays Love, a love guru/adviser on TV who resigns from her show after 15 years because she herself has never had a boyfriend since birth. She goes to Palawan and meets Derek, who appears only a handful of sequences then suddenly pops up again out of the blue in the last sequence to be Kris’ leading man. Kim is Anya, a loser who didn’t finish college because she left her widower dad whose new girlfriend she doesn’t approve of. She seems attracted to former high school classmate, Xian Lim, but it’s not really clear whether they had a relationship before or not.

Jodi (wearing the most atrocious wig ever) is Mel, a single mom (her son is played by Bimby) who has the hots for her boss, Ian Veneracion, and helps him to move on after his girlfriend (Agot Isidro) has dumped him. Pokwang is Corina, a teacher in love with a guy who has gotten married to someone else (Allen Dizon, shown only in photos) and cannot move on. For the seniors, there’s elderly couple Nova Villa and Ronaldo Valdez whose relationship has turned sour as Nova thinks Ronaldo is now just taking her for granted.

Because there are too many characters and too many stories, Antoinette has to do an abbreviated kind of storytelling to compress everything within two hours. But honestly, most of what happens on screen don’t really work and you feel that everything is done in a haphazard way. That climactic sequence showing a school presentation where Bimby recites a poem, Charo’s granddaughters sing, then Ian suddenly goes on stage to sing for Jodi, has this air of being very contrived and put on that it made us so uncomfortable for all of them, and also for Antoinette. About the acting, only Nova manages to be touching. And yes, also Jodi, but only up to a certain extent. The others give performances that range from bland to totally annoying. We want the movie to work as it’s a movie that believes in the power of love. But it ends up more like a rushed, botched up piece of work that is quite difficult to love.