The bloom is off Vice Ganda’s comedic roseBy Nestor U. Torre
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Ever since “Praybeyt Benjamin” set a new record at the box office a couple of years ago, its star, Vice Ganda, has been lining up a similarly profitable follow-up comedy flick. After a rather long wait, that cinematic gambit, “This Guy’s In Love With You, Mare,” is turning out to be another crowd-pleaser, only perhaps not as big a blockbluster as his maiden effort.
It’s instructive to see that, like “Benjamin,” Vice Ganda’s new character is a gay who is sometimes compelled or coerced to play it straight. Verily, this gender-bender conundrum is turning out to be a major theme or absorption for the country’s first gay comic superstar—and therein lies more than just one telling tale.
He mines this emerging motherlode mostly for laughs, of course, but it’s also turning out to be his caustic comment on the lies some Filipino gays are forced to tell and live, just to keep other people or themselves “happy.”
As “Benjamin,” Vice had to turn himself into a tough soldier to gain the begrudging approval of his family. In “This Guy,” his flaming parlorista character turns macho to get back at his faithless lover for having had a girlfriend on the side for years. Vice’s character is so good at playing it straight that he rings her bells, driving his cheating ex-boyfriend nuts!
The running gag in this new flick is Vice’s ability to convincingly drop all of his gay antics and play it straight. He’s tall and big, so he is able to pull it off, with the help of his gay amigas, who assume the role of the various victims of his allegedly tough-as-nails alternate persona.
The running gag is good for some laughs, but the viewer eventually wants more humor from other sources and derivations, and this is where the movie’s bag of tricks and shticks starts coming up empty.
What about Vice’s costars? Luis Manzano is too obliging and easily tricked to put up enough of the comedic “resistance” Vice needs to keep things crackling, believable and funny.
As for Toni Gonzaga as the hapless girl both guy and gay share, she punches the right buttons, but precious little real comedy results from her efficient efforts, because the character she’s created is generally clueless and superficial.
“Comedic resistance” is a must-have in revenge scenarios like this, because without it, the avenger will have too easy a time of it, and that isn’t funny.
What about Vice Ganda himself? He’s a smart comedic operator, so we do get more “traction” from his performance. In addition, his characteristically telling comments and scathing put-downs are in great evidence here. But, his signature touches pretty much go through the same territory that “Benjamin” so productively traversed, so the bloom is off his comedic rose.
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