Love stories continue to capture the imagination and tickle the fancy of hopeless romantics. In a nation where romancing a girl calls for a heartfelt harana and where matters of the heart inevitably become matters of the family as well, romantic comedies are expected to draw crowds to movie houses starting Christmas Day.
For this year's Metro Manila Film Fest, the two contenders in the romantic comedy genre are Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo from Star Cinema and Mano Po 5: Gua Ai Di (I Love You) from Regal Entertainment.
Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo banks on the onscreen chemistry of reel and real-life couple Judy Ann Santos and Ryan Agoncillo. Fans of these two lovebirds will be thrilled to see their idols finally get "married" on the big screen—plus they get a sneak peek into the intimate moments of the "newly wed" couple.
In addition, most Filipinos can relate to the dilemma of having meddlesome in-laws and well-meaning-but-omnipresent friends and relatives.
KASAL, KASALI, KASALO
Cast: Judy Ann Santos, Ryan Agoncillo, Gloria Diaz, Gina Pareño, and Ariel Ureta
Writer & Director: Jose Javier Reyes
Studio: Star Cinema
Plot: Angie (Judy Ann) and Jed (Ryan) are two people most unlikely to fall in love with each other. She is a no-nonsense provincial girl turned producer, while he is a laid-back rich bachelor. When his parents force him to migrate to the U.S., Jed does the unimaginable--he proposes to Angie, whom he has known less than half a year. Hasty wedding preparations and the conflicts between their families after that almost drive them crazy. This is when Jed and Angie realize that married life isn't just "happily ever after."
Box-Office Potential: Although this a kilig movie, the tandem of real-life sweethearts Juday and Ryan has yet to prove its box-office power. We predict though that it will land in the Top 5 spot.
Awards Prediction: This is lightweight compared to Juday's dramatic incursions, but should be no less important. The young superstar does a great job: she plays it just right, neither campy nor understated; she has great lines that she delivers with pitch-perfect timing; and she manages to make herself simpatica even when she's being pushy. She should be a frontrunner for the best actress award. Also, this genre is very much the turf of the film's writer-director, Joey Reyes, so it's pretty sure to be in the running for major awards, particularly the scriptwriting and editing awards.
The Mano Po series by Regal Entertainment is composed of unrelated stories that highlight various aspects of Filipino-Chinese culture in the Philippines. In the latest installment of this bankable series, Mano Po 5: Gua Ai Di (I Love You), the plot revolves around the desire of most Filipino-Chinese parents to have their children marry within the race.
Multi-awarded filmmaker Joel Lamangan helms this project aside from his other MMFF entry this year, ZsaZsa Zaturnnah Ze Moveeh.
MANO PO 5: GUA AI DI (I LOVE YOU)
Cast: Richard Gutierrez, Angel Locsin, Lorna Tolentino, Christian Bautista, Gina Alajar, Jaclyn Jose, Tirso Cruz III, Boots Anson Roa, Ketchup Eusebio, and Ella Guevarra
Director: Joel Lamangan
Writers: Jun Lana, Dode Cruz, Andrew Paredes, and Abigail Lam
Production: Regal Entertainment
Plot: A romantic-comedy movie about the love between a middle-class veterinarian (Gutierrez) and a well-to-do Chinese-Filipino girl (Locsin). The latter's parents (Lorna and Tirso) don't approve of the Filipino suitor and want their daughter to be married to a Chinoy (Christian), who is a successful singer and whose family they've known for a long time.
Box-Office Potential: Last year, the Richard-Angel starrer Mulawin:The Movie did not do as expected at the tills. (Recouping its huge production outlay may have been a problem for any lead star.) Whether the combined star power of the two young superstars can draw legions of fans to Mano Po, which is on its fifth year and has a far more modest budget than Mulawin, is something producers pairing Richard and Angel together in more films want to know.
Awards Prediction: Comedy films are often ignored by the award-giving bodies, except for Ms. Zsa Zsa Padilla who bagged the Best Actress trophy last year for her comic role in Ako Legal Wife: Mano Po 4. But Lorna Tolentino (who has replaced Dina Bonnevie for the second time in the Mano Po series) has a very good chance in the best actress and best-supporting actress categories.