Saturday, June 16, 2012

Kimmy Dora and the Temple of Kiyeme - Diminishing Comic Returns

Kiimy and Dora’s latest caper takes to light the origin of the Go Dong Hae’s fortunes. This time around, the discrepant twins get hounded by their patriarch’s unsavory past.

Kimmy and Dora (Eugene Domingo) have to take a trip with their father Luisito (Ariel Ureta) to Seoul to pay their respect for their fallen grandfather now entombed in a temple backyard. But little did they realize that there was more to this ruse than meets the eye. In fact, Kimmy is betrothed to the son of the Sang family instrumental in jumpstarting the business that has more than thrived in the Philippines (they even own and operate a new airline company).

As a young man in Korea, young Luisito’s (Ryan Bang) family was hard up but perseverance in the family’s kimchi stall soon pays off. With the Sang family’s financial succor, opportunities flourish and business grew exponentially. Luisito meets Kang Kang (Alodia Gosiengfiao), the Sangs’ favorite daughter, who fell head over heels in love with the amorous Luisito. When doors open for Luisito to study in Manila, the young entrepreneur grabs his chance, conveniently abandoning the heart broken Kang Kang who, through the years, has grown as bitter as her sagging wrinkles. When she eventually learns of Luisito’s marriage (though at gun point) to a Filipina lass Charito (Kiray Celis), the scorned woman dies – but not without a curse and an acrimonious spell that shall even out an unjust romantic field. Kang Kang shall claim whoever loves Luisito and Charito’s offspirings!

Meanwhile, upon the Go Dong Hae’s arrival in Seoul, Kimmy is obliged to meet her would-be groom who turns out repulsive, obese and child-like. Kimmy’s surly and antagonistic behavior towards the younger Sang repels the latter that he turns his sight to the saccharine-sweet Dora! Things get worse because Barry (Zanjoe Marudo) has actually proposed to Kimmy, while Johnson (Dingdong Dantes) has popped the question to Dora. Heck, even pet Micky is looking forward to marching down the aisle. All these complications become precursor to the spell earlier cast on the patriarch. 

In calculated stages, Sang Kang Kang sequesters the souls of Barry, Johnson and Luisito, while eternally badgering Kimmy with auditory hallucinations (she hears an ominously beating drum) and Dora with visual phantasms (she sees a ghost dressed as a witch). Suddenly, the Go Dong Hae’s world is in shambles. Will the twins get through this diabolical patch in their lives?

Trust scriptwriter Chris Martinez to come up with a valid story that imbues sense and narrative nuance to an otherwise preposterous, if droll chronicle. Unfortunately, there’s no getting around an inane material. Silly is silly. It’s like partaking ampalaya (bitter gourd). No matter how you garnish it to dilute its bitter taste, you will never rid of its sensory piquancy.

The main culprit is the briskly dwindling comic quotient of director Joyce Bernal who once again resorts to her feeble, diarrheic humor. Remember “Mr. Suave”, “D’Anothers” and “Agent X44”? Sure, she had “Booba” and “Kimmy Dora: Kambal sa Kiyeme”, but their levity were mostly attributive to their naturally rambunctious leads (Rufa Mae Quinto, Eugene Domingo). What’s more telling is how this story didn’t even make it to the final list of 7 at the 37th Metro Manila Film Festival (2011) – a spurious film movement that’s actually churned out slightly-better entries last year! The sequel is akin to a cinematic runt, i.e. “latak”.

Johnson (Dingdong Dantes) saves Dora (Eugene Domingo) from drowning?

CG work is patchy and takes us back to the technology of the 90’s: whenever a special effect is employed, the screen dims, giving you an incommodious prodrome of things to come by way of poorly realized effects.  Some are great (a witch flying over the Go Dong Hae household), but most are run of the mill. Besides, Korean witches don’t necessarily take the form of Western Witches with disfigured faces, extended and crooked noses, long frizzy hair garbed in black pointed hats and Cimmerian flowing gowns – riding on a flying broom. When did Sang Kang Kang evolve into a western miscreant? Why not play around the Hanbok, the traditional Korean costume? Maybe in her old age, Kang Kang turned to watching Hollywood freak shows?

It also doesn’t help that some of the supporting cast need lessons on maintaining accents like Kimmy and Dora’s attending physician (Alexander Cortez) who vacillates between British (“He is in a prolonged state of sho-k”) and Visayan English – and something in between. I cringe every time he’s on screen. Kyle (my BFF) whispered that Cortez is actually the artistic director of Dulaang U.P.  which begs the question: why is a supposedly well-placed thespian this hammy? Shivers! Someone give him remedial lessons in elocution and delivery – fast!

But all’s not lost really. The film takes you to scenic Korea – you shall see the Namsan Tower, Gyeongbokgung Palace, and the festive Myeongdong (a commercial, pedestrianized street littered with shops), among other places. If you like exotic scenery, you can check this filmic criteria. If you’re easily taken by a constellation of stars, there are quite a number here: Kris Aquino (who blurbs and refers to the film as “pang pamilyamay puso” – and you’re suddenly curious if she was indeed talking about “Kimmy Dora”. The silliness of people who speak first and think later just makes you puke, doesn’t it?); Piolo Pascual, Erik Santos, John Lapus, Jason Gainza, Maricar Reyes (resplendent as a flight attendant), Richard Poon, Marvin Agustin (playing Jose Rizal), Kean Cipriano, Mura, Tim Yap, Slater Young, Divine Smith, Jinggoy Estrada, Liz Uy, Raymond Gutierrez,

Alodia Gosiengfiao, who plays the scorned Sang Kang Kang, commands a strong presence, thus this should usher more films for the lovely cosplayer. Miriam Quiambao (the loony former beauty queen who turned infamous for her spaced out utterances: “Homosexuality is not a sin but is a lie from the devil”) does a great Gertrude, Kimmy's much abused secretary. She was fantastic in the first film so I half expected more screen time here. It’s too bad she was given scenes too menial for her promising character. Instead, spotlight shone brightly (albeit in heavily diffracted and broken luminescence) on Moi Marcampo – oddly billed as Moi Bien in the film. She awkwardly graces the screen as the Go Dong Hae's maid Elena - an abomination that further drags down the less-than-hilarious moments. Marcampo speaks like a somnambulist’s assistant so you do wonder why some people think of her as an actress worth hiring (aside from the fact that her boss is Spring Films' executive producer, Papa P). I even read a piece that referred to her as, and I quote: “a natural comedian whose presence and few lines are enough to make one roll a laugh”. I smell drugs. I sense dementia. I speculate on delusion. Roll a what? J Is it like rolling a dice or rolling weed? Or did the writer really mean Moi was laughable?


This takes us to Eugene Domingo who is expectedly brilliant. But there are no surprises here. She continues to amaze us with her thespic intuition as she masterfully delineates not just two, but three characters: the disagreeable and ill-tempered Kimmy; the coy but winsome Dora, and the nurturing Charito (the twins’ mother). However, at some point, Kimmy’s whiny demeanor – she has protracted scenes that stretch out for 15 straight minutes – grates through your senses and tries the heck out of your patience. Kimmy Dora, like “Ang Babae sa Septic Tank”, is a highwire act. Domingo’s hard work is so palpable that at some point you get exhausted looking  at her manic energy dripping throughout the narrative hyperboles. She has to be zanier than Mila (“Septic Tank”), needier than Aida (“My Househusband… Ikaw Na!”), more impertinent than Rowena (“Enteng ng Ina Mo”) and flakier than Mrs. Montano (“Zombadings 1…”) I’d surmise it’s a tall order to outshine yourself.

There are disparate moments of utter conjecture with punch lines that don’t quite make the scenes. I was baffled why laughter was few and far between. Was it just me? While making my way out of the cinema, I overheard comments: “Medyo nakakatawa din pero kulang”. In fact, I felt that these laughs were mostly episodic, albeit intermittent: two-second chuckles where there should be convulsive bursts of laughter. This is probably due to a contrived back story that complicates and dilutes the entertainment quotient of the film. Moreover, horror and comedy just don’t make comfortable bed fellows. 

Alodia Gosiengfiao: strong presence!

Ryan Bang and Alodia Gosiengfiao play Luisito and Sang Kang Kang respectively.

Eugene Domingo and director Bb. Joyce Bernal


Armando dela Cruz said...

One thing about the movie. "THE FIRST ONE WAS WAY BETTER". And I wasn't egxoooooooyyyyteeeeed saying this.

Cathy Pena said...

@ Armand:

There were several moments I wanted to checkout the shoe sale from the nearby shops and just come back for the big finale. LOL

Anonymous said...

Correction: alodia is a COS player not cost player

- juan

Cathy Pena said...

@ Juan:

Ah yes, "cosplayer". :)

Anonymous said...

Mas ok siguro kung nagising lang yung ghost nung na-disturb nina dora sa korea at na-possess si dora. Imagine evil dora trying to kill her dad pero laging palpak. So horror pero funny at acting showcase pa rin for eugene.