There are two dissonant stories in Jose Javier Reyes’ “Wedding Tayo, Wedding Hindi”. But we feel that the film was originally meant to focus on one. Then Eugene Domingo became too big to take on menial side stories, thus the project evolved into two equal parts.
When Music teacher Maribel (Toni Gonzaga) finds greener pastures in Japan, her co-teacher Oca (Zanjoe Marudo) suddenly proposes: “Pakakasalan kita pagbalik mo.” And three years isn’t that long a wait. The catch is, Maribel and Oca weren’t even a couple to begin with. Meanwhile, Belay’s cousin Precy (Eugene Domingo) has had it with husband Benito (Wendell Ramos) when the latter fails to recover P250,000 from a business deal gone sour. The money was Precy’s savings meant to finance their very own house and lot. Moreover, she didn’t even know he took it.
Three years later, the meek and unassuming Belay comes home a changed woman. She is loud, impulsive and uncouth; she wears sparse garments and streaks her hair. Oca, on the other hand, remains reserved and indulgent. Bel is expectedly thrilled and raring for the pre-nuptial jitter.
But Maribel and Oca’s road to matrimony hits a snag when their parents don’t agree on a sundry of details: She wants a Boracay wedding; he can’t afford it (he’s an ignoble Social Studies teacher); she insists on purple as motif, but her mother-in-law finds it tacky. He wants a cousin as ring bearer; she prefers a different boy! The list of disagreements piles up like a bomb waiting to explode. And when it does, Bel is slapped with a rude realization that Oca’s proposal could have been a knee jerk proposal offered out of haste than affection. What’s a girl to do?
Precy, on the other hand, walks out of her family. She wants an annulment and his sincere apology. But egos are soaring high. Benito pleads for her return saying he’s forgiven Precy, all the while failing to own up to his mistakes. So Precy keeps her resolve, but barely so. Her hubby’s a hunky catch and his allure provides too much of a temptation for the homely wife. Will she eventually take him back?
Once again, Eugene Domingo displays the enviable antithesis of comedic flourish and thespic restraint that has made her an unseemly Philippine Sweetheart, appearing in half a dozen TV shows from 3 warring stations; fielding blockbuster flicks one after the next. Her hole-plugging role becomes a more engaging, better threshed out performance when we expected another variety of “Mamarazzi”. As the months lay on, Domingo becomes a living testament that talent alone can summon success. You don’t need youth, beauty or a well-oiled machinery to make it big.
If you’ve been watching Toni Gonzaga’s spiels in the Sunday gossip show, “The Buzz”, you would agree with me that she has been such a delight. She has developed an affectation that’s gratifyingly felicitous as she faces her guests or when she delivers cheerful quips as she opinionates. This particular boobtube persona is being taken on screen, personified in Toni’s Japayuki Bel. Would this translate satisfactorily on celluloid?
Unfortunately, it was a failed experiment. Toni inconsistently vacillates, if a tad too annoyingly, in her characterization. Her performance straddles between demonic possession and constipation. Yes, we know that living in Japan has toughened her up, but did she really have to be that loud and eccentric? Has she transmogrified into a transvestite or evolved into a sexy Martian? She desperately wanted to offset Domingo’s scene-stealing knack as though amplifying her voice was the ticket to succeed in this endeavor. She was schizopheric at best. This development disappoints because we see her as the ultimate romantic-comedy heroine of this generation.
As for Zanjoe Marudo, he could have nailed his Oca had it not been for that scene where he enlists the intercession of Precy at a restaurant. We’ve always found him a comfortable actor: as besotted Caloy in Cathy Garcia-Molina’s “You Got Me!” (also with Toni Gonzaga); as former boxer Anton in Rico Maria Ilorde’s spine-tingling indie,“Altar”. But when tasked to deliver a dramatically emphatic spiel opposite Domingo, he seizures like fish out of water. It was an awkward moment that highlighted Marudo’s weakness – truly among the year’s worst performances.
Wendell Ramos delivers a winsome turn as lazy, albeit attractive husband Benito. Wendy Valdez, Regine Angeles, Teddy Corpuz, Miriam Quiambao, and Ramon Christopher provide short but adorable supporting performances, while Irma Adlawan (playing Zanjoe’s mother) fails to believably capture the frustrations of a mother who’s not quite pleased with her son’s choice for a wife. Adlawan mostly frets and appear stolid, a thoroughly guileless interpretation of her character, while Odette Khan (as Wendell’s mother) joyfully cavorts into her spiteful character with such unabashed glee. Adlawan should take pointers from Ms. Khan.
“Wedding Tayo, Wedding Hindi” represents the leftover ideas that didn’t quite make it in the final cuts of Jose Javier Reyes’ successful “Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo” and its sequel “Sakal, Sakali, Saklolo”. Way until the rolling of credits, we were waiting for the rousing cinematic payoff that made wedding romcoms mostly irresistible, but this one failed to deliver. It ended as blandly as its mediocre script. Reyes’ creative juices suffer from having to deal with discordant stories and forcibly piecing them together into an uneven fit. Domingo’s character could have provided the foil to subvert the trite comic formula, but her story only highlighted the sheer disparity of the stories.
Ultimately, it was one narrative that went to town wearing a pair of dissimilar shoes. And Toni Gonzaga limped all the way through.
Perhaps a bad performance wouldn't matter in the long run because the theater had an impressive crowd when I watched. To some, making dough is the sole essence of the film making business. It is an enterprise after all. And Toni Gonzaga has proven her mettle as a reliable crowd drawer. A better project next time, Toni?