REVIEW: JoWaPao trio attempts to merge comedy with soap drama elements in Trip Ubusan

(L-R) Paolo Ballesteros, Wally Bayola, and Jose Manalo top-bill Trip Ubusan: The Lolas vs. Zombies. They are joined by child actress Caprice Cayetano.  


When a Filipino film is described as horror-comedy with a touch of drama, it is safe to expect you’d get more drama, enough dose of thrills, and less comedy. That is what Trip Ubusan: The Lolas vs. Zombies provides in essence.

In addition, it features three familiar lolas regularly seen on noontime TV and known for their vocal expression of life lessons directed at the young.

So, viewers need not be surprised that every once in a while someone in the cast will shed a tear and the musical scoring transforms into soap opera mode, sometimes almost without warning. Either the Pinoy market just can’t get enough of all the drama on TV or movie directors see that it’s safe to keep the audience in tight grip of their hankies.

Jose Manalo (Lola Tinidora), Wally Bayola (Lola Nidora), and Paolo Ballesteros (Lola Tidora) deliver the goods in their well-loved style in this film spoof of the Korean hit Train To Busan.

In fact, in one scene featuring Al Tantay in military gear, they acted with impeccable timing that you’d think they’re doing it in one of their spontaneous hilarity on live TV.

However, the chemistry of the JoWaPao (Jose-Wally-Paolo) trio could have been used more properly if there are more scenes that need that kind of comedy. A number of times, the three seem deprived of their ability to strike punch lines because the script kind of glued to sending moral lessons all the time.

It’s a spoof so those who watched Train To Busan more than once may expect some scenes directly taken from that movie but given a funny twist.

Trip Ubusan: The Lolas vs. Zombies tells the journey of the three lolas preparing for a birthday treat to Charmaine (Caprice Cayetano), only to end up running for their lives from regular people-turned-zombies. A foursome of millennials comprises a separate group; and all of the key characters find their way to a bus driven by Jordan (Arthur Solinap) who comes up with an idea to zombie-proof it. In the midst of the zombie-pocalypse, Jordan has a love-hate relationship with co-worker Abe (Lovely Abella).

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This movie boasts of laudable camera work, especially the aerial shots. The plot turns are tightly knitted and make it fast-paced and thrilling to a large extent. The opening scene alone is clever in its depiction of a glutton (Nino Muhlach) who ends up as patient zero.

More so, the insertion of a gay character Melo (Jhayvot Galang) is in a way unconventional because, unlike most local movies these days, he is not the one with the biggest heart. The film gives that to the unlikeliest kindhearted among the pool of faces trying to survive the zombie outbreak.

One may expect a couple of plot twists that deserve a thumbs up while a few scenes are too mushy to appear believable.

Ryzza Mae Dizon (Marcy) portraying a kiddie geek on zombie survival steals scenes without much effort, providing a smooth explanation as to why some zombies walk or run. On the other hand, Angelika Dela Cruz as Madam Eva looks too angelic to act the way she does in the movie. It may have been more chillingly effective if she rather chooses underacting.

Overall, Trip Ubusan passes as a delightful way of spending one hour and a half at enjoying the kind of comedy films the country produces nowadays. The cinematic shots are better orchestrated; the cast better looking and styled. Yet the comedic punches are prone to being off the mark or delivered minus the skill of a born-comedian. Whereas before you can count on to even the sidekicks of Tito, Vic, and Joey to come off with the kicks, now you’d mostly rely on the main players.

Trip Ubusan: The Lolas vs. Zombies is directed by Mark Reyes and produced by M-Zet Productions and APT Entertainment.


Ed's Note: The "PEP Review" section carries the views of individual reviewers, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the PEP editorial team.

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