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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.

Aug 23, 2017

'Barboys' Movie Review: Well Acted, Entertaining Story Of Law Students And Their Four Year Struggle In Law School

WE ENJOYED Hollywood movies about law students, like “Paper Chase” with Timothy Bottoms, “Legally Blonde” with Reese Witherspoon, “Conviction” with Hilary Swank. Now, we finally have a local movie about law students, “Barboys” and thanks to writer-director Kip Oebanda, it manages to be fairly entertaining even if a lot of people now have low regard of lawyers who have become so materialistic, especially those who became politicians.

The story centers on four friends who take the admissions test to an unspecified law school together: Carlo Aquino as Eric, Rocco Nacino as Torran, Enzo Pineda as Chris and Kean Cipriano as Josh. The movie starts with them waiting for the results while playing a video game. Only the first three make it and Kean ends up being a model who has the most minimal exposure in the movie as it’s now you see him, now you don’t.

The movie serves as a warning to those who are thinking of taking up law. It follows the three guys who passed through their stressful four years in law school until they take the bar exams, and there’s an epilogue of what happens to them later on as lawyers.

Carlo is the poor boy among them. His dad is an aging security guard who dreams of his son becoming a lawyer even if they could hardly make both ends meet. Also, he is not very bright and really has to struggle and study hard.

Rocco is the brightest among them, with a very good memory that’s a big asset when you want to be a lawyer. He also has a big and very supportive family led by her wacky wisecracking mother (Mailes Kanapi). He’s shown joining a fraternity but nothing really persuasive comes out of this subplot showing his experience in hazing.

He’s also given an aggressive love interest (Hazel Faith de la Cruz) as a classmate with whom he has a one-night stand, but nothing is heard from her again after that, which is bad since Hazel Faith is quite competent and it’s a promising subplot that did not go anywhere.

Enzo is the richest guy in their group. His dad is based in the U.S. and has long been convincing him to migrate and study in Harvard. But he has a jologs girlfriend who sells beauty products for a living (Anna Luna, who steals her scenes). His dad wants him to dump her but, for some reason, he can’t just leave her.

We’re not a lawyer, so we don’t know if the technical jargon about the law mentioned in several instances in the movie were accurate (only real attorneys can tell that), but all in all, it works pretty well since the movie is told with liberal doses of humor and we do get to care what will happen to the characters.

The three actors who made it to law school all do well. Carlo has the most dramatic role and he registers very well, particularly in his scenes with his supportive dad (Rener Concepcion, who gives a heartfelt and moving supporting performance.)

Rocco is the live wire in the group and he shows great comic timing. The scene where he comes home after the results of the bar exams are out is truly hilarious. Enzo has very good screen presence and is believable as the richest guy in their barkada. Together, they have very good chemistry and it’s Kean who really comes off as the odd man out being the outsider.

Giving outstandinng support is Odette Khan, who’s very convincing as an intimidating terror professor who doesn’t hesitate to humiliate her students, but who later turns out to be a real softie and becomes sympathetic to Carlo when he’s about to fail in class.

Sebastian Castro also serves his role well as a gay professor who the three guys initially thought is one of their classmates since he’s wearing a shirt with banana designs on their first day in class. When Carlo later offers to give him special favors just so he’d pass in his class, he rebuffs Carlo and tells him to just wait until he has graduated.

That scene after graduation where he approaches Carlo to say he’s now open to any possibility was met with cheers of approval by the audience when we watched it in a fairly full theater. It’s as if viewers now freely approve of such gay relationships.