Sunday, April 22, 2012

My Naughty Kid: Humor-Free and Brain Dead

Timothy Michael dela Hoya (Aaron Calvo) is a raucous child who amuses himself by playing tricks on the people around him. He places red coloring on rice, throws balls on courting beaus, regularly picks his nose, farts at will and moves around with boundless zest. He is also scrawny and bald; people – even his father Angelito (Jeffrey Quizon) – calls him “Multo”, something that he despises. So when his millionaire father becomes too busy with his affairs, Multo runs away. He finds home in the company of a hopelessly unemployed dreamer Elmer (Malaysian comedian Joe Lodnadito) who is once again rejected from the local football draft for the 4th straight year.

Like Multo, Elmer loafs around plazas, extending occasional hand to a pretty but blind flower vendor Rizza (Julia Ziegler) who needs half a million bucks for a sight-restoring operation. But how many flowers does she need to come up with the required fee?

Back at the home front, Angelito (Multo’s father) is more concerned what people would say if the media finds out about his runaway child. “Ano na lang ang sasabihin ng media?” he enthused thoughtfully. In fact, he didn’t want to inform the authorities about it. He was more concerned with his coming nuptials to a new wife than the disappearance of her only child.

The night of his wedding, Multo clandestinely comes home to steal money from his father; money meant for Rizza’s eye operation. Unfortunately, Multo gets caught – but not before throwing the stash to Elmer who didn’t realize they were stealing from Multo’s father. Will Multo ever see Elmer again? Will Rizza get her operation? Is there happy-ever-after in father and son’s relationship along with Multo’s new mother (Irish Contreras)?

My Naughty Kid” is a confused work meant like a screwball comedy. Unfortunately, humor is one aspect that escapes this cinematic embarrassment. It is entirely shot in Kota Kinabalu in the island of Sabah. It opens with Multo and Elmer joining a tourist boat. Why residents of the island would join a group tour is beyond me. What baffles further was why Multo, a child of 9 or 10 years, would tour alone? Have you ever heard of runaway kids joining tour groups? More importantly, are all runaways as sophisticated as this puck? In the same boat ride, a guide with a megaphone annotates to his guests. When his megaphone conks out, Multo takes it away and farts on it. Voila! It is working after all. This scene, early in the film, ushers us into the intellectual quotient of its film makers.

For the most part, enthusiastic comedian Joe Lodnadito resorts to screwy facial crutches reminiscent of Vincent Daffalong – both in comic temperament and facial features, you would think we were watching something from the 80’s. He peppers his spiel with rapid delivery and an irritating affectation: “Ang tanda na nya. Pwe!” “Lolo n’ya yung rapist? Pwe!” “Maligo ka na. Pwe!” As though spitting was the funniest thing one could do. While Multo picks his nose and farts, Lodnadito spits! Such a classy duo.

The think tank is a veritable barrel of desolate gags that won’t even inspire a timid smile. Humor takes the form of bewildering lines that don’t make sense.

Line 1:Magaling ka bang mag turumpo? Eh magpalipad ng saranggola?” (These lines were their zaniest zingers. Silly is more like it.)

Line 2:Pag bata pa, amoy pabango. Pag tanda, amoy tiger balm.” (Are we tickled pink?)

Line 3: "Ang multo raw ay kalbo!” – or Line 4: Wala akong kilalang multo na kamukha mo!

Thus this imp was called “Multo” by everyone. But where in the world is a bald man called multo (ghost), and referred with crooked hilarity? Is this a Malaysian lore? I hardly think so. Ghosts in Malaysia take the form of Pontianak/Kuntilanak (“vampire”), langsuir (blood sucking bashee), mumiai (criminals-hating poltergeist), toyol (tiyanak-like fetal monster), orang bunian (invisible elves), etc. Never bald creatures! Which infecund imagination does this idea come from?

Line 5:Di mo ba alam ang kaibahan ng multo at anaconda?” And you’re so out of the loop where the idea of “Anaconda” came from. In psychiatry, usage of terms from nowhere is called “looseness of association” which is one of the hallmarks of a Thought Disorder. Add away “distractible speech” and “clanging” – “I heard the bell. Well, hell then I fell”. We have a full diagnosis. Someone needs to be institutionalized!

Person 1: Matulis ito!” (This pertains to his sexual vitality.)

Person 2:Ang tatay ko, matulis din!

Person 1: Kailangan n’ya ng Vagariya!” (If you thought you heard it wrong, “Vagariya” gets spoken again! What idiot can’t pronounce Viagra?)

When Multo finally comes home after 3 weeks, he knocks on his father’s door, but the latter wouldn’t even open it because it was his honeymoon night! Is there humor here? There is a stark degree of dissociation to reality where the scriptwriter is concerned, isn’t there? A child comes home and a father’s priority is his Vagariya-requiring loins? Go figure.

The movie is directed by a Zech de la Cruz, but the production team consists of John Ad. Castillo and a Malaysian, Antonio Hendry Jahar. Elsewhere, we see the unbilled Z Lokman, director of the execrable “Seksing Masahista” and “Untamed Virgins”, doing a cameo. Even Roldan Aquino of “Untamed Virgins” appears as a sex-starved albularyo (Don Angelito’s father) who rapes his patient; a mind-blowing side story that absolutely veers away from the film’s thematic drive or comic content. It’s like someone swiftly decided to insinuate this incoherent strain in the story. Heck, who cares if it’s an absolute detachment from the working narrative? As I have mentioned before, these “looseness of association” could be a hallmark of an on-going psychiatric pathology. People, take heed!

Jeffrey Quizon’s presence bewilders. This could merely spell his free ride to Kota Kinabalu. Aaron Calvo, who plays the rambunctious child, is anything but amusing! He isn’t easy on the eyes and his humor predicating on passing wind and harvesting boogers are far from hilarious. Lodnadito might as well take lessons from his compatriot, Zizan Razak (“KL Gangster”) who recently starred in Ahmad Idham’s horror-comedy-adventure “Jangan Pandang Pandang” (“Do Not Look”).

The Malaysian film follows the adventures of 4 university students who get assigned to study an abandoned cave in the heart of the wilderness to complete their scholastic requirement. The way to Gua Bewah is studded with traps, wild animals and ghosts! Though riddled with loopholes and ridiculous scenes, Zizan Razak, who plays the group leader Aji, is a delight. He was so adorable it's the very first Malaysian comedy (which are generally hideous) I was able to endure. His delivery is masterfully zany and he doesn’t even resort to facial contortions nor fart/spit/booger jokes. His dry wit is so palpable that his very plain Malay feature soon turns errr “sexy”. Don’t you just love funny guys?

I think it is high time that indies be screened by a regulatory body. What is the MTRCB doing if they’re just meant to sit on garbage like this and classify - then pass it on to the public? Can’t they at least try to be useful and put a bare minimum criteria with premium on the "acceptable" quality of any commercial release? Movies that won’t even get a passing grade as a film thesis don’t deserve to be served to a paying public! And “My Naughty Kid” is as bad as it gets! Not only is it carelessly dubbed in Tagalog (it’s partly spoken in Bahasa, thus needed Tagalog dubbing), but the whole project is an afterthought to a Malaysian holiday, albeit poorly conceptualized – surely, brains were left at a basement while they were filming this cinematic clutter.

As though aware of how repulsive this movie is, the film ends with Jeffrey Quizon (or was it Lodnadito) closing the movie with a winking message to the audience: “Ang napanood n’yo ay My Naughty Kid”.

Huh? You would think their audience was similarly moronic.

Zizan Razak sees ghosts. He is Malaysia's version of funnyman Vhong Navarro.


Armando dela Cruz said...

Darn, this movie is such a crap. Won't even bother to write a review. Or should I??? I feel the need of the other viewers to know how crappy this is! -_-

Cathy Pena said...

@ Armand:

It is a horrible movie. But then I've come to expect that from John Ad. Castillo, Z Lokman and his colleagues. They didn't disappoint where my expectations were concerned. :)