Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Leonardo Q. Belen's Pinoy Super Kid - Slap-Happy Stupidity

After planning a ruse that would cancel a school exam (for the sake of a friend who isn’t ready to take it), Alex (Buboy Villar) gets expelled from school. But what’s more heart breaking for him was getting booted off his Boy Scout Platoon. Alex lives and breathes the scouts’ ideals. This is when he starts having nightmares concerning a band of thieves – their movement, their operandi. Heck, he even gets the exact date, time and address right! With the help of his friend Buddy (Jerould Aceron), he produces a sketch of these thugs and turns them over to a police sergeant (Rey PJ Abellana) who scoffs at Alex’s allegations. After all, who in their right mind would readily admit clues straight out of a child’s dream? But Alex’s nightmares linger on, diligently tracking down the baddies’ operations. 

He seeks his Tito Ben’s (Mark Lapid) help, but all their complaints fall on deaf ears. Little did they realize that the sergeant coddles this criminal syndicate. This time around, Alex gets a gift from a mysterious old man (Amay Bisaya) who bequeaths a powerful talisman. From here on, he starts gaining magical powers that could freeze or move people (telekinesis, anyone?) When another heist ensues, Alex, his Uncle Ben and his guidance counselor Karen (Princess Armillos) find an ally in another police officer (Mon Confiado) who, though skeptical, doesn’t turn them away.

When the bad guys get wind of Alex’s gifts, they kidnap him and take advantage of his powers. Soon, more people are abducted: Delia, Alex’s mother (Suzette Ranillo); Gemma, Alex’s crush, and his father Mr. Osorio (Edwin Reyes); even his uncle’s girlfriend Susan (a bargirl). What’s a magical boy scout to do?

Why? This question loudly resonates like a huge gate of tin falling down a concrete. The choice of employing the Queen’s English as medium of expression is befuddling! In fact, the first few minutes felt like a joke. I kinda expected someone cute as Ashton Kucher declaring “You got punked!” Unfortunately, it was all for real! Take one look at Buboy Villar and his physical attributes: brown skin, flat nose with upturned nostrils, eye slits typically Asian – then he opens his mouth and out comes English, in its most horrifically pugnacious form! In fact, this soon turns into a laughfest with teachers, drivers, sari sari store tinderas “trying” their spine tingling twangs:

Alex is-tole (stole) a copy of dee questions!

After passing judgment on Alex (he gets expelled – proven beyond reasonable doubt without even hearing a single word from him for his defense), the principal orders an investigation to be conducted by the “is-cool” psychologist Karen: “Find out if Alex is abnormal or is sick of something!” Huh? But wait, didn’t she just expel the child? Investigations are supposed to occur before a judgment, not after a child’s been kicked off school, right?

As a thumbs up for a good job cleaning her dad’s car, Gemma (Aila Mendero) greets Alex with her top-of-the-morning cheer: “Spic and span, Alex!” Ano daw? How can the script writer live with himself using words too far removed from the Pinoy psyche? And you wonder why we’ve been besieged by storms and gusty winds one after the other!

The film must have been shot with a thematic word-of-the-day: “Stupidity”. “Don’t disturb me with your is-tupidity!” “Don’t tell me something stupid!” “Look at your stupidity!” “You’re a fool!” “Don’t be foolish!” “I am participating in your (drum roll, please) foolishness!” The word and its synonyms bloom like the spring all throughout the narrative so you end up counting them. Hmm, there it is again! And again! And again! Stupidity indeed runs around this excuse of a cinematic garbage!

Another illness is its cacologous lines: “She sit down when we want it to sit down!” Hahaha. Ohmygoodness. Please stop me from this unbridled hilarity! In another scene, Alex/Buboy Villar gets chastised, “You’re turning to be a witch!” Has Alex turned into a girl? Or was this kinda like the Boy Abunda mentality of gender equality? After all, “witch” should be applicable to every slice of the gender pie, debah? Para fair! Sure sounds better than its masculine counterpart – “wizard”! By the way, a Colgate commercial rightfully belongs here: “Our project for Colgate Fresh U is to build a lib-lary!” Just a thought.

In another scene, after receiving talisman from a mysterious old man, Alex asks the tindera, “Did you see da old men?” She replies, “I niber sow dat old dibel bepor!” Aw shucks! She sure didn’t!

Most scenes are as detached from reality. Where does the magical old man come from? And why did he abandon Alex when the latter was kidnapped? If Alex could walk through walls, why couldn't he escape from his abductors? In another scene, after a petrifying bangungot, Alex wakes up alarmed, perspiring heavily. His mother rushes to his bed, calms him down, then tells him, “Don’t forget to pray.” Suddenly, agitated Alex is a bundle of joy, beaming with a “Sound of Music” smile, and quite ready for his close up! Did I miss something?

And why does a “superhero” get agitated in the rain? Is this the Gremlins phenomenon? Will he multiply once wet? Where is the “connect”? Then when you've started to consider that thought, this idea gets ignored altogether. Nakalimutan? Manila Bulletin’s Crispina Belen refers to this film as “outstanding”. You wonder which aspect was even vaguely superlative! Yet I am called by a basurero-looking Atenista in his FB ramblings a “pure PR” (he classily declared to his amigas - "mamumura mo talaga ang reviewer na 'yan") and that's just for judiciously enumerating the things I liked about “Kalayaan” (which he calls "epic fail... Basura ng Cinemalaya"; he conveniently dismisses the fact that I also enumerated what I didn't like about it), yet you have entertainment journalists who consider this abomination “outstanding” – and do they get brickbats from basurero-looking bitches? Go figure.

Director Leonardo Q. Belen seems to be living in some alternate universe. His skill and storytelling acumen hail somewhere between the 1958 and 1976 timeline. The sensibilities are dated and too “Piling Piling Pelikula” you somehow expect Max Alvarado, Rodolfo Boy Garcia, and Romy Diaz to jump out of the screen. That would have been more fun, you know. Yes, I was the only soul tinkering with my gorgeous nails in the cool darkness of an SM North Avenue Cinema. It must have been the rains driving people away – in droves, but for once, the inclement weather proved commodious!  If you’re easily annoyed by “is-tupidity”, stay away. If you want fun in clueless film making, try this one out. Laughing is good for the heart. But don’t say I didn’t warn you! 

Lapid consoles Ranillo: "Hanapin natin ang millions ng mommy ko sa Las Vegas. Huwag kang mag alala!" Or was that a different script?

Alex, after getting kidnapped, becomes a "zombie"! You better believe it! :) The original title "Boy Scout Hero" would have been more appropriate!


Armando dela Cruz said...

I laughed the movie out. And it's not even comedy. :) HAHAHAHA, wala na ba tayong maisip na bago? 'Yung hindi masayadong fail huh? Diba Cathy? WAHAHAHA. The laughability of the film still haunts me. Lol.

Cathy Pena said...

@ Armand:

The whole exercise of investing time, money and effort just to watch this film already makes for a funny experience. But then it's better to laugh it off than frustratingly cry it out. :) said...

Haha Cathy. Inuna mo pa to sa The Healing? Lol.

Would've watched this too but I know I will waste time if I did. So wag na lang.

Cathy Pena said...

Mark, you weren't supposed to notice that. Haha. I've seen "The Healing" when it opened on a Wednesday. I just didn't write about it yet. And not because I didn't like it either.

Isusulat ko na nga tonight. Kaw kasi. :) I'll read your review after posting mine. I try to avoid reading reviews kasi before I get to write mine. :)

Jeff Lim Jr. said...

Hindi ba medyo utak burgis/colonial mentality ang matawa sa mali maling Ingles?

Natawa din kasi ako sa trailer nito. Bad film making aside, I felt a bit guilty that I was laughing because I don't laugh at French folks when they speak bad English. Also when I watch Hollywood films, everyone from Tibetans to Aliens speak English, so I couldn't justify my ridicule for the film based on authenticity. Hindi rin kasi perpekto ang Ingles ko... and even if it was, isn't it being snotty to laugh at other folks who are trying?

Cathy Pena said...

@ Jeff Lim Jr:

While I agree that we should not laugh at people who try to speak English (how else are people gonna learn the language if they won't), it should not be at the expense of a PAYING audience!

A commercial movie is clearly not the appropriate venue to PRACTICE your middling English skills! People pay to be entertained, NOT to watch people "practice"! Shouldn't that be crystal?

Besides, this isn't like going to Tibet or Kathmandu or France where it is more than acceptable not to speak the Queen's language - so your sentiments of not "being snotty" is rather misplaced.

People should learn English because it is a universal language of expression, but what is so darn wrong with Tagalog language for a Filipino production set in Manila, acted by pug-nosed Pinoys? Tagalog is beautiful! Most of the Cinemalaya entries used Tagalog, and they're too far removed from this movie in terms of quality!

Colonial mentality would have me refrain from watching any Tagalog films, but I could probably generalize that I have watched the most number of Pinoy Films this year - bar none! So much for colonial mentality!

Now, if you're not comfortable with English, by all means, use the vernacular! After all, the film's target audience speaks and understands Tagalog MORE than English!

Saying that something is acceptable even when they're making a fool of themselves is rather unacceptable to me. Wrong is wrong, and I will laugh when I want to because these were IMPOSED on my sensibility - AT A PRICE I PAID! How can anyone justify anything as troublingly bad as "Pinoy Super Kid"?

I paid P180 for its admission fee. I believe I have all the right to laugh at a bad product as I have every right to be very angry for a product as ludicrous as this flick. Call my "laughing" snotty, but I paid for a product that wasted my time, money and effort. That, to my mind, is consumer rights - snotty or not!

Anonymous said...

Burgis or colonial mentality is a pathetic excuse people use when they want to label something they dont feel comfortable about. And this tendency is probably worse than colonial mentality itself, it's misguided apologistic reaction to imagined foreign masters: trying to apologize to americans in behalf of filipinos who can't help being themselves. There's so many things wrong in that scenario that it's worthy of its own press con.

That said, I am very suspicious of people who drop these words. More often than not, it's based off false consciousness which has long been debunked by a many brilliant filipinos (renato constantino et. al.) way way before but unfortunately still pervades educational institutions and popular media to this day.

But let's get back to the subject of Pilipino english.

Let me propose an ontology. There are 3 kinds of people who find pilipino english amusing:

1. The social climber types, who laugh at anyone's failed attempt( according to their own standards ) to the queen's english in diction, grammar or probably use of idiom.

2. The simpletons, The social climbers are a noisy bunch and thus established the mainstream standard for pilipino english bashing, thus any simpleton will think this is accepted norm and behave accordingly.

3. The overeducated types, they acknowledge there is a pilipino accent and embraces it fiercely or mockingly. They despise a lot of the social climber's virtues. These people laugh at what they perceive is a social climber's failed attempt of mimicking a perfect caucasian accent.

Social climbers would most likely pick on simpletons, Overeducated types would pick on social climbers, and simpletons wouldn't be able to tell the difference, so they'd generally pick on anyone. And that makes it a very happy circle.

- juan

Cathy Pena said...


It's a wonderfully proposed ontology, the kind that deserves its own article in a sociological journal. Are you sure you aren't Felipe de Leon, Jr. of the NCCA? He's one person I've recently had the pleasure of discovering and admiring without much reservation.

Reading your piece was like stepping on thin glass, I had to somehow reflect on my demeanor to place myself within this "very happy circle". But I am what I am. I laugh when I find anything funny. I don't consider myself over-educated too. I'm just honest enough to write what I think - that doesn't fall in the realm of over-education, surely. I'd embrace "arrogance" more.

And the Pilipino Accent is as real as there's a flood of badly made gay-themed flicks.

I like the Pinoy english and I am squeamish hearing people sport "twangs" that try too hard. I make no apologies for my reaction to entities that come my way. It's just the way I am. I'm comfortable.

This ontology is a didactic exercise and it was fun trying to fit myself into it, though I couldn't perfectly conform into it like hands in glove. Just maybe, I don't belong in the circle. :)

Anonymous said...

Well, as convenient as it is to be able to categorize things in rigid groups, it's also not always accurate. But it's good enough for a little amusement :)

I have one criteria though to single out overeducated types: I know I come across one whenever I find myself going for the dictionary multiple times to get an idea of what they're saying. That usually happens when reading this blog.

And no, I'm not senor de leon, that's too generous of you.

- juan

Cathy Pena said...


Three things:

1. It was amusing.

2. Getting pegged in the chasm of "over-education" seems to carry an atmosphere of pretense. Ouch!

And I vehemently disavow being a simpleton and - worse - a social climber. That is ghastly, Juan!

3. I like using appropriate words regardless of how foreign-sounding they are. It's an exercise of creativity for me.

Skilty said...

Hi Cathy, I did a bit of simple research (read: Googling!) and confirmed my hunch that the director of Pinoy Super Kid (Leonardo Belen) is indeed the husband of Crispina Belen, the Manila Bulletin entertainment writer who raved about the film. Now THAT's PR!

Cathy Pena said...

Hi Skilts,

My hunch was that he'd be a relative. Knowing that the director is indeed Ms. Belen's husband really raises the question of ethics - or delicadeza.

It's one thing to promote, i.e. "raise awareness" about a film. It's another thing to actually review a film and give it a high mark even when it's execrable just because it was the work of your husband. Such loyalty and devotion, indeed!

Ms. Belen used to be the entertainment editor of Bulletin (now it's Nestor Cuartero). Who would believe her now when she says one film is great? Her son is also an entertainment writer. Maybe we should expect another "great review" from Walden. LOL

By the way, just FYI, do you know that this films is continuously being read by a great number of people? It is baffling! I don't understand why the interest on something: 1) few people know about, 2) one of the worse films in the last 10 years!

Thanks for the info, Skilty! :)

Skilty said...

Haha, I know, it's been getting hits in Pinoy Rebyu over the last few days. That and HIV. Both films I did not bother to see because of your and other people's reviews.

I guess some teachers require a film because of the themes without bothering about the cinematic aspects. Better ask students to read up on the topics na lang than require them to watch junk.