8 February 2020 | Percivl_Cybr
In my theatre I swear I heard labored laughs behind me. People convincing themselves they're watching something funny, that for a couple of hours their problems in life were pushed aside (and didn't worsen), and that they got their money's worth. I felt very sorry for them.
If laughter's the best medicine, The Mall, The Merrier's filmmakers are albularyos (quack docs).
What happened to Vice Ganda? If my childhood TV memory's right (I hope it is), his movie characters used to be hilarious (Petrang Kabayo), funny (Praybeyt Benjamin), and chuckle-worthy (Girl, Boy, Bakla, Tomboy). But now his flicks barely draw laughter, and when it does, appallingly it is the wrong kind.
Barry Gonzales' (Fantastica) second Vice Ganda flick sucks. It's so bad I promise you it's the worst of the year. It would only lose to Coco Martin's entry in the 'best movie title' category if there's one (we all know the title 3Pol Trobol: Huli Ka Balbon is a stroke of genius).
Directed by Gonzales, written by Alpha Habon, Jonathan Albano, Daisy Cayanan, though obviously machinated by Vice, the flick is set in "Tamol Mall" (pun for tamulmol, slang for stupid, idiot, like the film's slapstick characters), the place where estranged siblings Moira (Vice) and Morissette (Anne Curtis) would compete for its ownership after their parents (Jameson Blake, Elisse Joson) passed. The story would have ended quickly if not because of their family attorney, who left at home the last page of the last will and testament. (Laugh track).
What is this bin of a flick littered with? Facebook/Twitter pick-up lines "nalowbat first sight ako sa'yo"; gays drooling over macho men; girls posing in their bikinis; Lapu-Lapu caricatured to an IP; kitschy fashion match; an excruciating rap battle (I covered my eyes); an uninspired Night at the Museum parody; and most of all, distracting subtitles that didn't match: not as a joke, the names and terms for Filipino pop culture references and punchlines were changed to American ones. What were they thinking? Foreign audiences would care?
Apart from the Victim!-ed moviegoers, I felt terrible for the actors. In the shots of Vice frolicking, in the background you'd notice them smile with discomfort. Lines you'd detect were delivered with a cringe deep inside in every minute their faces are on screen. The adjective 'lucky' are for those who wore mascots with their faces hidden from the camera, and oh to those voice actors. You'd cringe along with them - it's a cringefest.
This flick's a waste of beauty (Curtis, Joson), talent (Dimples Romana, here predictably parodying her Kadenang Ginto character), production and CGI; time - the actors', filmmakers', and moviegoers' (a 2-hour flick we know would air in ABS-CBN months from now), electricity and breathable air. The forced sibling moral lesson at the end is the rotten cherry on top!
I called it a flick - not a 'film' nor a 'movie' - appropriate as malls should have flicked it out of theatres since day one. Even Marius Talampas' Ang Pangarap Kong Holdap, a comedy heist I saw four months ago wasn't composed of famous cast and lavish production elements and yet, it was worth ten times more than Gonzales' (or Vice's) flick.
This is everything that's wrong with the Philippines' film industry and pop culture. Unfunny, cringe-worthy, ignorant, and disgusting, The Mall, The Merrier is an insult to comedy and to the other genres (family musical) it purports to be.
As I bolted out of the theatre, the bloopers rolled, as if the entire thing I sat through wasn't one.
Original unrevised review first appeared on Atenews (01/02/2020)