Saturday, December 15, 2012

Alejandro "Bong" Ramos' My Amiga Girl - Comedic Cliches

When Margarita Avez Mercedes, (Daiana Menezes), crowned “Queen of Brazil” arrives in the Philippines, she falls victim to a conman who divests her of possessions and travel documents. Scared and alone, the Brazilian beauty queen finds solace in another deadbeat soul, transvestite Kimberly (Michelle O’Bombshell) who likewise falls victim to an illegal recruiter. The two become fast friends. But Kimberly refuses to go home to the province. What would his father, who sold most of the family’s assets, say? The two friends drift from one household to the next, doing odd jobs for a flurry of employers: as makeup artists at a funeral parlor; as massage therapists for a Chinese businessman (sans “spacol” – neologism for “jakol sa spa”); as carwash crew under a sex-starved boss Douglas (AJ Dee); as an “artista” auditionee who reluctantly ends up in a sleazy go-go bar, etc. Each encounter becomes a comedy of error.

Unfortunately for the beauty queen, she couldn’t turn to the police fearing she’d get thrown in jail when one of her spa customers succumbed to a heart attack. Meanwhile, Andrew, (Gerald Madrid), a police investigator, is aware of Margarita’s disappearance. He was supposed to pick her up from the airport but got sidetracked when he was summoned at his child’s school. Andrew’s mind is up in the cloud. His wife abandoned him because he kept a secret, i.e. he has an affair with another man (Ivan Chev Tabucal). With all these internal conflicts, finding Margarita becomes a burdensome mission.  

Kimberly eventually turns to his family in San Clemente who welcomes him back with open arms. Margarita experiences the warmth of Pinoy hospitality. Soon thereafter, she attracts the attention of the town’s besotted Mayor Lacanilao (Sherwin Ordonez) who, days later, proposes to the troubled expat. In fact, despite her polite rejection, she becomes target to an attempted kidnapping, as Lando (Rufert John Lirio), Kimberly’s brother, would unravel. What becomes of helpless Margarita?

Director Alejandro “Bong” Ramos (“Butas 1 and 2”) churns out a genre far removed from his usual sex dramas and exposes his blatant artistic weakness. In fact, the flick doesn’t brandish a flicker of brilliance, visual or narrative, indicated by his voyeuristic tales. What we do have is a narrative replete with comedic clichés: fart jokes, bad parodies of Nora Aunor films delivered by Menezes herself (Lines from “Himala” and “Flor Contemplacion Story”), GMA impersonations, slapstick accentuation of physical imperfections, etc. Moreover, the chronology of events refuse to reflect reality and the narrative thread is punctuated by head scratching situations designed to prolong the agony of the disserviced tourist. Any foreigner in a foreign land with half a brain would turn to her embassy for help. She doesn't. But she had to experience all the inanities of a variety of Philippine avocation, doesn't she?

Though I am tickled pink of Menezes’ impeccable command of Tagalog, this wasn't even explained why she was so good at it… except that “there are many tutors in Brazil”. They teach Tagalog in Brazil? Really? Como foi? Menezes is an ebullient actress, and she is easy on the eyes, but she has a long way to go as a thespian. While other Pinoy mestizos take ages to learn their Tagalog, Daiana can run rings around her conjugations. Unfortunately, it doesn't win her points where film quality is concerned. What a waste.    

Looking for Andrew.

Margarita and Kimberly

Sir Douglas (AJ Dee), the peeping boss.

Gerald Madrid as Andrew, the police investigator.

Suzette Ranillo as the over enthusiastic mother of Kimberly.

Bad GMA jokes, no?

AJ Dee: Hotter than his more popular brother.

Rufert John Lirio as brother Lando.

Ivan Chev Tabucal as Andrew's secret lover Steve.

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