Flies in the cinematic ointmentBy Nestor U. Torre
Philippine Daily Inquirer
A fun time was had by all at the recent screening of the Apo movie musical, “I Do Bidoo Bidoo,” written and directed by Chris Martinez. The nostalgic homage to “the soundtrack of a generation” was both a visual and aural treat that vivified the filmmakers’ love for the Apo’s songs and the antic and heartfelt sensibility they reflected.
Less than inspired, however, was the predictable plot peg that was chosen to help string the Apo songs together. The updated Romeo and Juliet romance and “clash of clans” felt stodgily familiar, generally unenlivened as it was by any insightful developments beyond the predictable rich-poor dichotomy that was tacked onto it.
To compensate, the production came up with some feisty performances, mostly by the actor-singers who represented the “poor” side of its plot’s conflict.
Unfairly, its “rich” characters ended up as pale generalizations, with the loud exception of the bride’s grandfather, whose sneering disapproval of her sweetheart’s lack of wealth and pedigree soon pushed the young couple to forget that they loved each other, and break up.
More productively, the movie’s rich-poor conflict did score plus points on point of cautionary talking points for viewers to ponder, especially if they have love-struck children of their own.
However, a key subplot inserted into the movie’s Romeo-and-Juliet tale (Romeo is also secretly loved by his best male buddy), while trendily relevant, merely ends up as a fey diversion and distraction, because the movie can’t develop and pursue it with the unction it deserves, for fear of losing the classification it needs to retain its intended youth or family viewership.
Despite these flies in its cinematic ointment, the musical persuasively introduces young viewers to the Apo’s whimsical and yet topical songs. The times and climes may have changed since the songsmiths’ own youth in the ’70s, but their signature themes of love, friendship and indomitable optimism despite the low blows of real life remain valid—and vibrant.
Other considerations: Too much screen time is given to the young lovers’ combative parents, since they’re more “colorful” and keep the proceedings spicy and feisty. As a result, however, the young couple’s story is occasionally glossed over and upstaged, unlike Shakespeare’s original tale, which made sure to keep its young lovers in firm focus throughout its storytelling.
Also debatable is the production’s “efficiency,” exemplified by its decision to not do a number of its chosen songs in their entirety. Yes, this enables the movie to include more Apo tunes, but it occasionally feels too abrupt.
Granted, the Apo’s discology has an embarrassment of musical riches, so selecting the best or most “representative” tunes can get to be a problem. Still, a less “efficient” approach could have served the production better, as it would have allowed the most empathetically evocative anthems to truly soar—and zing.
Recent Stories:Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.