Sunday, August 19, 2012

Frasco Mortiz's The Reunion - Lost in the Music

Ten years after their high school graduation, Lloyd, Joax, Boggs and Patrick are still finding their place in the sun. Lloyd (Enchong Dee), a graphic artist, works at a print shop churning out calendars and pasting faces in glass mugs. Joax (Xian Lim) drives other people’s cars at a valet parking. Boggs (Enrique Gil) does the harrowing grind of a real estate stand selling nothing. Pat (Kean Cipriano), a musician, still pursues his dream of making it big in an industry that has so far ignored him. Stuck with their dead end jobs, the barkada finds themselves in a class reunion where, once again, their level of success is under scrutiny. This somehow takes them back to their momentous past: Lloyd was besotted with shy but receptive Ara (Cristine Reyes); Joax flirted with student council rival Toyang (Megan Young); Boggs succeeded to get fellow athlete Ligaya’s attention – and affection, as did Pat with Shirley's (Bangs Garcia)! One fateful day, Pat and his friends got unwittingly involved in a scandal (involving Alodia Gosiengfiao’s missing jewellery piece inside the girl’s car) that nipped these romantic couplings in the bud.

Back to present time, they believe that their setbacks are somehow rooted on that specific incident, like a trajectory that went awry. The solution: to reconnect with the girls from their past. So with the help of Ali (Jessy Mendiola) and Jay (Matt Evans), the guys set themselves up for a wild goose chase to find their Juliets. Unfortunately, Lloyd’s opportunity to find the girl is closing in fast. Ara (Cristine Reyes) is rumoured to be getting hitched. And no one seems to know where to find her. In the age of google and one-click search boxes, phone directories, Facebook and twitter accounts, finding Ara becomes a quest for the Holy Grail – and she couldn’t be found! Go figure. The same goes for Shirley who has moved up the fame ladder by becoming a popular FHM model. (Another head scratching moment! She's gone so famous that she couldn't be found? LOL) What about Toyang? Where the heck is Carmen San Diego, err... I mean Toyang? O, Diyos ko, ano ba naman ito? Will the boys be able to correct the misplotted dots and “rectify” their misdirected lives this time?  

Director Frasco Mortiz’s movie runs on a premise that’s too ridiculous to believe. In fact, connecting the dots should be the least of their worries as logical groundwork in the narrative leaves much to be desired. Sure, Mortiz buoys his story with unbridled energy, delightful music and testosterone charm, but it’s a hurdle going through something as ludicrous as getting flak for helping a girl find her lost jewellery inside a car. If this incident became a scandal then, didn’t it warrant an investigation? A single paragraph of explanation would have easily cleared the air, wouldn’t it? Didn’t anyone – Lloyd, Joax, Boggs, Patrick - even try to explain the situation to Ara, Shirley, Toyang and Ligaya? Everyone believed they were guilty of sexual indiscretion though they were all fully clothed inside a car that isn’t even tinted? How have they become such idiots?

The sprightly music of Ely Buendia’s Eraserheads is turned into discordant chapters that help bestow cinematic vim to an otherwise droll, sitcom-inspired, albeit middling story. What’s worse, there’s hardly chemistry among this filmic brotherhood. You don’t discern sincere camaraderie. Despite their emerging problems, you end up not caring. In fact, many of the characters are downright forgettable. I had to refer to my notes to check who Boggs was or if Pat had a girlfriend. When your protagonists don’t make a lasting impression, you know you’re in trouble.

Among the guys, Enchong Dee ends up with a more sympathetic character. His Lloyd was written as a geek and he succeeds depicting him in some ways, deflecting an occasionally noticeable "softness". But he should thank the luminous Jessy Mendiola resilient in a half-baked character named Ali who eternally tags along with Lloyd like a fag hag, i.e. if Lloyd was a fag (get it?) Something about Xian Lim disconcerts me. He has a perfidious veneer that seems detached from real emotions. He towers over everyone which must be why empathy is hard to come by. Either that – or he needs more teleserye experience to finetune his craft. His “singing” scenes should have imbued a little more compassion, but this moment flittered like a lovely, piquant butterfly on its way to rainbowland. Many other talents are wasted here: Julia Montes (who’s always competent); Bangs Garcia (who’s back to being a mere boob-girl); Gina Pareno (as Aling Nena, was inconsequential); Janus del Prado in a politically incorrect and insensitive role.

I am thus baffled why this was given a B rating by the retards and dimwits of the Cinema Evaluations Board (CEB). How can anything with such incongruent narrative strains deserve such “quality-indicative”, tax-evading rating? But then, I’ve long accepted the fact that these CEB evaluators either have self-serving motives or possess the brain of cockroaches. “Pak! Pak! My Doctor Quack” was rated B. Need I say more?

The E-heads surely deserve homage the way ABBA got their “Mamma Mia”. After all, their music helped define a generation. But pinning their musical legacy on a mediocre story, wrapped in frothy, buoyant energy is nothing short of a disservice. Some heads need to roll.  

In her drunken stupor, Aling Nena (Gina Pareno) offers an unsolicited advice: "connect the dots" which reminds me of a recent horror flick.

Ali (Jessy Mendiola) pines for her best friend.

Toyang and Joax flirt around.

Pat (Kean Cipriano) and Shirley (Bangs Garcia) give each other their hearts.

Enchong Dee

Xian Lim

Enrique Gil

Kean Cipriano

Jessy Mendiola

6 comments: said...

Only watched this till then end because of the girls. Every time this actor appears, I want to stab him to death. Oh, so you had a baby, which you did not know about? You weren't kicked out of high school right? Or were you so oblivious to not know she was pregnant then.

Anyway, you can't act, brother.

Cathy Pena said...


My sentiments exactly! I used to believe that Xian would make a good actor when I saw him in Portes' "Two Funerals". He wasn't too self conscious then, considering it was his debut film. Now he is!

How can anyone not know that he fathered a child if they (their barkada) weren't even expelled (they obviously graduated)? So yes, that was a Rated B-caliber discrepancy.

But stabbing, Mark? :) said...

So frustrated with his scenes. :)

Anonymous said...

I actually enjoyed the film! But probably that's because I watched THE REUNION right after the abortion that is JUST ONE SUMMER!

-j. lax

Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more! maybe the B Grade of CEB now stands for BASURA!

Cathy Pena said...

@ J Lax:

Abortion? Dang! CEB gave "Just One Summer" a Grade B rating as well... it should be Grade A for "Abortion" then? :)

What is the world coming to? :(