Twist of fate
Joyce Bernal’s “Miss Granny” isn’t quite the predictable rom-com we thought it’d be—and that’s all to the good. It is escapist, yes, but it comes with valuable lessons that mitigate its fan-pandering elements.
For starters, it gives Sarah Geronimo, Viva’s reigning screen queen, the “artistic license” to shake off some of her reticence, and enough elbow room to let her thespic hair down.
Shot at happiness
By portraying Fely Malabaño, a lonely septuagenarian (Nova Villa, exceptional as always) who’s given another shot at happiness when she’s magically transformed into her 20-year-old self (Sarah), the singer-actress is tasked to “approximate” the 71-year-old comedienne’s feisty energy and kooky confidence—a tall order by any measure.
And while Sarah doesn’t get the high-wire Nova act down pat, the desired effect is nonetheless achieved, because the 180-degree personality shift and Fely’s life-altering twist of fate allow viewers to see the perpetually guarded actress in a refreshing new light, with her beautifully maturing musicality in tow.
The movie plays out like a musical coming-of-age tale with a supernatural twist, about missed opportunities and second chances, not just for the underappreciated old-timer Sarah portrays with relish and aplomb, but also for the glass-half-empty characters around her who are too selfish to recognize the ample blessings coming their way.
James Reid, who plays Fely’s loving grandson Jeboy, and Xian Lim, as music executive Lorenz Milleza, turn in perfunctorily limned portrayals.
But, while they don’t get to do much, at least they aren’t tasked to breathe life into one-dimensional “cartoon” characters who merely move the story forward or play to the peanut gallery.
Nova, who’s exceptional “dramedic” gifts were grossly underserved in the well-meaning but languorous “1st Ko si 3rd,” brings the right mix of sardonic wit and brimming pathos to her scenes—and we hope to see more of her on the big screen.
Another significant draw are the “oldies but goodies” tunes, performed by Sarah with crowd-pleasing gusto, that help leaven the production’s “fantastical” but underexplained excesses, and string its disparate sections together.
“Miss Granny” is far from perfect, because it has loose ends that need tying up: For example, none of her friends and family knew who Odrey de Leon (Fely’s millennial moniker) was until she was forced to point out her identical likeness to Fely’s 20-year-old self.
But, that’s just us nitpicking.
If you can get past similar gaffes, it isn’t difficult to appreciate the film’s timely reminders about the reassuring power of love and the indispensability of the ties that bind all of us in the increasingly apathetic world we inhabit and navigate.