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Stellar showcase for Star Magic’s resident screen faves

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MANABAT. Best portrayal in “24/7 in Love.”

The new film, “24/7 in Love,” may sometimes come off as an unpretty mess, but it does showcase a number of curiously interesting stellar portrayals—and teamups. The anthology film is about what some people intend to do come Dec. 21, when the Mayan calendar has it that our world will end, and an inordinate number of screen faves have been conscripted to portray some of those eternity-obsessed folks.

The first substory is a real lulu, because it puts hunk Sam Milby in bed with—Pokwang! The very idea itself is the height of bipolar improbability.  But, the two hugely mismatched stars work really hard to pull it off. Alas, despite their best efforts, they fall short of the mark—but, not from want of wanting!

Also extremely ungainly is another story’s madcap notion of making hunk Zanjoe Marudo play gay best buddy to his real-life squeeze, Bea Alonzo. Again, Zanjoe does his darndest to forget he’s one of the most macho stars we have, and determinedly dances the gay minuet.

The difficult transformation from hot macho hunk to believable gay caballero is supposed to be a feather in the actor’s cinematic cap, but even if he succeeds in part, the viewer’s final conclusion is, “What a waste!”—and, “Why bother?!”

As for John Lloyd Cruz and Angelica Panganiban, they’re rumored to be a romantic item in real life, so their reel sort-of romance in yet another short story is deemed to be an exciting hot-off-the-headlines example of art imitating life. Unfortunately, it allows them to kiss and cuddle only for a split second, before its theme throws a wet towel on their incipient ardor:

It turns out that, when they meet in a lovely resort abroad, he’s meant not to be her lover, but her teacher in how to love her character’s estranged husband (Coco Martin) better, after she flies back into his arms in Manila!

Vitality

What a party pooper that denouement must be to John Lloyd-Angelica fans, but there it is—and it saps their first big-screen teamup of the emotional vitality it could have had if the movie’s scriptwriters had been more simpatico and copacetic!

In terms of unexpected scripting and casting, “24/7’s” most notable short story is the one that links kids played by Xyriel Manabat and Zaijian Jaranilla with a slow-witted man-child portrayed by Piolo Pascual in a serio-comic tale about love in its many unexpected forma and expressions. In the story, little Xyriel has a huge crush on Piolo’s character, while Zaijian is experiencing adolescent angst and ardor for her!

It’s an edgy notion that could work if sensitively dramatized, but the story’s largely comedic tack distracts from and derails that longed-for prospect.

In terms of performance, Piolo makes an effort to be “different,” but fails to really inhabit his doltish character’s sweet core, and Zaijian goes the porma route and does even worse. The best portrayal is turned in by little Xyriel—who teaches her seniors what natural and believable acting is really all about!


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