Congested anthology lacks unifying focusBy Nestor U. Torre | Philippine Daily Inquirer
With so many stars in its cast, the anthology film, “24/7,” is an attractive viewing proposition. Soon enough, however, it becomes clear that the production’s singular advantage could also end up as one of its liabilities, because all those stars have to be given substantial exposure in the movie—so, there goes its unifying focus and pertinence!
The weak bond binding all of the movie’s disparate stories together is the informal survey that a teen character is conducting on what people would do if the world would end on December 21, as predicted by the ancient Mayan calendar. Each stellar respondent had an issue or conflict to iron out and resolve, but there were so many of them that they eventually became a blur.
In addition, the stories fiercely competed for viewer appeal and attention in terms of the novel or even far-out issues they dramatized. For instance, Pokwang’s old-maid character was bent on finally being devirginized at all cost before the human race shall have been exterminated by Dec. 21. To make things even more implausible, her “devirginizer” of choice was no less than screen hunk, Sam Milby!
Similarly far-out was the precocious “romantic triangle” formed by child actors, Xyriel Manabat and Zaijian Jaranilla, with Piolo Pascual as a mentally challenged friend. The substory was supposed to come off as bemusingly and movingly fey and whimsical, but it couldn’t sustain that delicate counterpoint of character and thematic elements.
Perhaps most outré of all was the decision to cast screen hunk, Zanjoe Marudo, as a certified, card-carrying gay in a story costarring him with his real-life love, Bea Alonzo. The assignment was supposed to be a big challenge for the actor, and if he measured up to it, his thespic stock would rise significantly.
Zanjoe did his best to transform himself into a mincing “mermaid,” but he simply couldn’t convincingly pull off the character’s deeper and more subtle nuances—nor should he have been required to!
All told, we were still glad we watched “24/7,” but we rued the fact that such an embarrassment of riches in terms of star value was largely wasted on a series of improbable implausibilities in terms of plot and character.
It’s one thing to opt for “edginess,” but not to the extent of falling over the edge of the cinematic cliff, because some characters and situations are too self-consciously far-out to be believed:
Yes, the production’s tongue-in-cheek factor and intent isn’t to be ignored, but believability is still needed to generate the required audience interest and empathy.
More positively, we note that the anthology film was a good showcase for Star Magic’s stable of talents, because it showed the variety of stellar types and thrusts in its huge talent pool. For instance, Bea Alonzo and Angelica Panganiban are both mestizas, but they have their own stellar appeal, with Bea identified with rom-coms and dramatic vehicles, while Angelica opts for a more sensual projection.
Ditto for John Lloyd Cruz and Piolo Pascual: Both of them are dramatic actors, but Piolo generally does “serious” drama, while John Lloyd paints on a wider and brighter canvas, from comedy to drama—and all substations in between!
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