How do you box in the manic energy and frothy character of Melai Cantiveros?
In Star Cinema's "The Adventures of Pureza: Queen of the Riles", you end up having a product that underlines everything that's annoying about her instead of the adorable gibberish and flashes of humor that highlight her persona. And in what could be one of the most atrocious cinematic outing of the year, a surefire formula hits all the wrong buttons.
Pureza (Melai Cantiveros) does odd jobs and the silliest, most ridiculous tricks to sustain her brother Ulan's (Martin del Rosario) escalating financial demands. It's a great thing that childhood friend Ruben (Jason Francisco) is always beside her to constantly lend a hand. However, this harmonious "partnership" of sorts may not last. Ruben plans to work in Saudi, and Pureza is largely repellent to people leaving her (she was left for adoption by her biological mother). And Ruben's romantic maneuver is blind sided by Pureza's emotional hang-ups and compulsion to earn the extra buck.
When shady mob boss Mother Baby (Gina Pareno) offers Ruben a clandestine heist that would bring Brazilian model Daniella Fabella La Bamba (Bianca Manalo) to her, Pureza coaxes Ruben to accept the job that would earn them a cool P100,000. The slippery model turns out to be a courier of illegal goods (diamonds) hidden within slippers. And who is Gerald Landerson (Joem Bascon)? Why does he welcome Pureza's too-obvious infatuation? Will he pave the way for Pureza's dream of becoming a model?
He is, after all, a renowned photographer. Is he a friend? Or a foe?
Director Soxie Topacio ("Ded na si Lolo") weaves a frenetic narrative with disparate stories too far out to be believable or funny. In fact, the funniest bits in this atrocious work appears right after the cinematic chapter concludes its tale - a series of outtakes running throughout the closing credits.
Aren't we tired of the same physical gags dressing up our comediennes in otherworldly frocks? Hasn't this been done ad nauseam? Pokwang? Eugene Domingo? Ai Ai de las Alas? Rufa Mae Quinto? What about the story? This is an obvious rehash from the hardworking Ina Montecillo (Ai Ai de las Alas) of "Tanging Ina", Paula Cajanding (Eugene Domingo) of "Working Girls" and several other comic heroines.
Melai Cantiveros delivers her lines like she's been constipated for the last 12 months. In fact, it's so painful to watch her with her 5-minute verbal marathons and soliloquys. "Si Ulan, ang kapatid ko! Ang kapatid ko!" - mimicking a cry with sobs and sighs, but curiously without the tears! Taking into consideration that this is a comic vehicle, people who cry still should do so with tears, unless she has an ophthalmological condition that merits Dacryocystorhinostomy (DCR)!
Jason Francisco doesn't do as badly as he tempers Cantiveros' pull-all-the-stops countenance. But this doesn't bode well for him either since it's obvious he is incapable of standing alone without his voluble and overly labile partner. Martin del Rosario's Ulan is clumsily written. You don't know exactly where his character comes from. His motivations for "straying" are as sketchy as this singular abomination that's loud, humorless, zing-less camp.
There are a couple of characters that make this cinematic rubbish a wee bit bearable: Bianca Manalo who plays an ill-advised Brazilian model (oh yes, you better believe it!) and Pokwang as Pureza's wayward mother in a fleeting cameo. Manalo delivers an earnest portrayal that befits her supposedly mysterious mien, queenly and affecting, despite the obvious idiocy of a character such as Daniella. Brazilian model? You gotta be kidding me!
Why "Queen of the Riles"? Because she lives beside the rail track? So does a hundred other illegal settlers. Then there should be hundreds of queens, right? Priscilla (Queen of the Desert) should be very ashamed for such idiotic references.
A few scenes would display the comedic sophistication of the film:
When Gina Pareno, who orally shuffles a disgusting pustiso all throughout her scenes, delivers a punchline, she shouts: "Ay kalbo! Ay pechay!" Someone actually thought that was funny?
There's the cockroach-throwing scene where, instead of just stepping on the darn vermin, everyone bats the poor insect around! Who ever thought that was hilarious should be examined in the head.
There's the tired gag of people falling down the roof. How many times should that be repeated before it wears out its novelty? I'd say, one is enough.
Finally, there's a misplaced musical number singing a slanged-out "pakpak" to the tune of "May Pulis sa Ilalim ng Tulay". Pekpek, anyone?
That this movie got clobbered by Harry Potter's final adieu, thank heavens there's justice on earth!
For those who believe they have a masterpiece on hand here, Geez, check your sanity! If anyone thinks of "Pureza" as anything other than horrendous, I pity you!
Manic energy, annoying countenance! What works in the boob tube miserably fails on the silver screen!