MMFF 2018 REVIEW: Vice Ganda's Fantastica relies heavily on slapstick

by Julia Allende
Jan 1, 2019

The Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF), in whatever incarnation, will always be exploited for its boombastic commercial value.

When else can Filipino films enjoy a two-week monopoly of box-office revenues during the time of the year when wallets are more open and spirits are more lifted?

And so it has become a sad practice for filmmakers to feed the masses disposable films with great earning potential but nothing to contribute to the progress of Philippine cinema. Everybody accepts this.

They’re just silly movies that entertain. There will be other movies to see after the MMFF.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with silliness, especially self-aware silliness that appeals to audiences on a more personal level. I love camp and kitsch as much as the next girl, boy, bakla, tomboy.

But Fantastica, the fantasy comedy offering by Star Cinema and Viva Films, may be taking it too far.

Top-billed by Vice Ganda, this film also stars Richard Gutierrez, Bela Padilla, Chokoleit, MC Calaquian, Lassy Marquez, and Dingdong Dantes.

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The film’s starpower was almost a guarantee that it would be a box office hit. Maybe. But as to whether their shine was put to good use is another matter.

THE GOOD

Belat (Vice Ganda) and her family are desperate to prevent their bankrupt carnival Perya Wurtzbach from closing. The problem is, times have changed and small-time attractions and freak shows are not drawing in visitors in the rickety entertainment complex.

As the carnival deteriorates and the property sinks deeper in debt, the family of Belat’s former best friend Dong Nam (Dingdong Dantes) offers to buy their land and extinguish their bank debts. They refuse to sell.

One night, while thinking of a way to revive the carnival, Belat meets Price Pryce (Richard Gutierrez) who solicits her help in finding the missing princesses of the mystical land of Fantastica and opening the portal to the other world. In return, he promises to help Belat to revive her carnival.

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THE BAD

As starpower is its main draw, the question becomes: were their talents put to good use?

It’s too bad that the powerful comedic talents of several stars in the ensemble —Vice Ganda, Jaclyn Jose, and Ryan Bang—were wasted on the sloppily-written script.

The plot does not make sense or maybe it’s not needed at all. It can be another storyline used as a backdrop for a comedy special on TV, which is just chockfull full of gags and parodies.

I want to lump it together with other mind-numbing and feel-good movies you see when you just want to take a break.

Unfortunately, it does not even feel good. Most of it were downright uncomfortable especially if you’re sitting elbow-to-elbow with parents and their kids. I’m not even sure if you should be taking your kids to this movie.

Mind-numbing, yes, as the heavy reliance on slapstick and comic insults is as fresh as the '90s. Ugly sidekick jokes, anyone? Atcheche!

Liberal use of sexual inuedo serves to elicit a few chuckles, masking the overall deficiency in story and character development.

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THE WORTHY

Should you insist to bring the whole family or barkada along, your tweeners would most likely enjoy watching the teen love teams of Maymay Entrata and Edward Barber, Kisses Delavin and Donny Pangilinan, and Loisa Andalio and Ronnie Alonte.

Your gay bestfriend would most likely get a hoot from the creepy Vice, Richard, Dingdong threesome and from the parodies of various drama films (which do not move the plot forward but, whatever).

You can probably take your still ignorant baby so she can oooh and ahhh at the colorful costumes and in-your-face special effects.

But what MMFF movie is complete without a moral lesson to take home for the holidays, right?

This two-hour epic mess does show us the importance of the love between parents and children.

It's a reminder that deprivation of affection by a parent can cause great emotional damage and erosion of self-worth in their children.

If you still haven’t seen it, you have time to catch Fantastica since the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) runs in cinemas until January 7.

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Fantastica, directed by Barry Gonzalez, is rated PG by the MTRCB but it would still be better to leave your younger kids at home.

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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