Key political advocacy upstaged by flurry of less relevant concerns | Inquirer Entertainment

Key political advocacy upstaged by flurry of less relevant concerns

/ 08:26 PM June 14, 2013

PANER (CENTER) AND COMPANY. Mixed signals. Photo from

Last week, we went out of our way to catch Jade Castro’s “Juana C., The Movie,” hoping it would succeed in its determined effort to make viewers think about, and care enough to act on, the country’s many problems.

While the sizzling satire succeeded to some extent, it limited its own effectivity by injudiciously piling one far-out gag and issue on top of another—so that, when the smoke cleared, its key political advocacy was upstaged by a flurry and welter of other less relevant concerns.


Of course, the film’s makers could aver that their larger point is that corruption, poverty and exploitation affects all aspects of their victims’ psyches, which is why the movie’s protagonist, Juana, played by Mae Paner, becomes not just an avid consumer of materialistic goods and a world-class social climber—but, a “popular” prostitute to boot!



Unfortunately, this is where reality and logic contradict the movie’s wild and improbable notions. It isn’t enough to summarily and unilaterally transform a plump nonbeauty into a popular pay-for-pay girl who makes thousands of pesos every night—you have to work hard to overcome viewers’ natural and logical resistance to such a far-out notion.

Satire can set its own parameters, no matter how ludicrous? Think again: If your movie’s mission is to effect social and political change, you’ve got to base your scenario on more believable reality, so that viewers can put one and one together and not come up with 239!


Fact is, when the film rails against the ravage of pollution and corruption by setting its tirades in the here and now, it’s savagely effective. It’s when it flies off into its sexual high-jinks and low-kinks, with the portly Juana outrageously miscast as the most desirable woman in all tarnation, that the flick shoots itself in the foot—and limits the chances of its important message finding its mark in viewers’ heart of hearts.

Some of the movie’s far-out schemes do work as “crazy comedy,” which can have a perverse and liberating effect of its own, but others, especially its many “sexy” scenes, heavily and clumsily beg the question, making it difficult for the production to fly as high as it should.


On the plus side, we delight in the “committed” and sometimes even “abandoned” antics engaged in by Paner, Niño Muhlach, Annicka Dolonious and Angelina Kanapi (she “juicily” plays the key role of a master wheeler-dealer, dowager prostitute and corruptor of anyone and everyone she can lay her hands on!).

Cameo players

Unfortunately, some of the movie’s cast of largely cameo players fail to imbue their parts with similarly focused feistiness and anarchic abandon.

The fact that “Juana C.” sends out decidedly mixed signals may help account for its not quite “hit” showing. This is unfortunate, because “Juana C.” is one of the few “advocacy” films that have been produced here, so it should be viewed by many people.

Ironically, we fault silly mainstream blockbusters for their excesses and illogic, and for throwing in an unselective mish-mash of allegedly funny notions. —And yet, this “different” and “alternative” film can occasionally also be rapped for its own unrelated excesses.

The much better scenario would have been for the movie to have been so on-“message” that its prime targets would have fallen, one by one, with the involved audience cheering the production all the way.

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Alas, this hasn’t happened, so it’s back to the drawing boards—and, better focus and satirical sharp-shooting next time around?

TAGS: Comedy, Juana C. the Movie, politics, Satire

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