STORY: My First MMFF Experience

In the Philippines, there is an annual film festival held during Christmas time which features Filipino made films in an extravagant parade. The festival called Metro Manila Film Festival, is kick started with the parade and is followed by the showing of all the films in the festival in all theaters nationwide. 

I have never gone to see any of the films in the festival in the 37 years that it has been going on since I'm not really a big fan of Filipino films... that is until I entered college and realized I'm just victim of colonial mentality and all that stuff. This year, I fancied seeing one film, Househusband (after seeing the trailer of the film while watching New Year's Eve) in the festival. It seemed pretty funny and I am a fan of the Judy Ann-Ryan tandem. Plus I find myself laughing a number of times when Eugene Domingo is part of the cast. So the film appeared to be a winner for me.

When we (Jose & I) got to the cinema, we were just 5 minutes away from the start of the film. The line was long so we were worried we wouldn't make it. So, we decided to watch Segunda Mano (which Jose wanted to watch over Househusband) then catch the next screening of Househusband.

It was a good decision we saw Segunda Mano since I left the theater with a lot of praises for the film. I would have never gone to see that film on my own since I am not a fan of horror films especially Pinoy horror which to me usually so over the top and in your face (the lead star is always chased into the woods or someone is grabbed from somewhere and the other characters watch and scream at the victim). But this film was clearly different. It had a believable story and all the little details tied up logically. I didn't notice a part in the plot that appeared out of nowhere (which is very common in many Pinoy films). The acting of Dingdong Dantes was also very commendable.

Also the horror was not the scream-at-the-top-of-your-lungs type but was more quiet and creepy. The film also had hints of comedy which made me enjoy the film even more (I found myself laughing so hard at one point). Actually, the film won't leave you terrified (like what other horror films do to you) since it isn't super scary but it made sense... and to me that is a better thing. 

On the other hand, the film I was rooting for (my mom and I even had a bet on which film would win best picture - her bet was Enteng ng Ina Mo and mine was Househusband. Winner gets P100!) was a big disappointment. It was mash of stereotypes and bad punch lines. The trailer was 10x more entertaining than the entire film. In fact, the trailer was pretty deceiving. I actually thought that the film was promoting being a househusband but the film was the exact opposite! The film further reinforced the machismo society we have. The guy (Ryan), who lost his job and thus became a househusband, had to hide indoors and lie to everyone about his current situation because, apparently, it is an embarrassment.The family of the girl (Judy Ann) was even mad at their daughter for working and mad at her husband for not being able to find a job. What's wrong with the woman working? Tell me because I don't see anything wrong with that. And the worse part is that the girl was actually very good at what she was doing but the girl had to hide her promotion to the family as not to further embarrass the husband! Now, how screwed is that thinking?

Besides the already terrible direction the film was going (which is to show how terrible a situation it must be to have a working woman and a stay-at-home man), the film desperately tried to make the film funny. It was sad to watch since I know how funny the 3 main stars are (being I am a fan of their past comedies). Eugene Domingo tried her best to save the film but even her magic wasn't enough.

Plus, Eugene's story line was a terrible flop. She was a mistress to a rich old, skinny man who is married to a fat woman with a fat daughter. The night Eugene was confronted by the legal wife and daughter, she tried to kill herself by shoving 40 tablets of Ascorbic Acid down her throat. The hospital scene apparently was the turning point of the film where everyone realizes what they are supposed to realize... just. like. that. Goodness.

Also, since I watched Segunda Mano before this film, I was able to compare how terrible the plot development of the latter film was compared to the previous film. There were a lot of "singit" stories that didn't help the story move along. An example would be when the guy had to attend a PTA meeting for his daughter and he ended up being the president of the class bake sale. Towards the end, this part got lost! And having the other mothers swoon over the only dad in the group was just another terrible and unnecessary detail the makers of the film added... to make the film funnier perhaps.

By the ending I had already lost all hope for the film to redeem itself. The film ended with the guy finding a job (an amazingly good job) and the woman being given "permission" by the husband to continue working. The entire neighborhood suddenly became nice to each other (with the beginning of the film featuring a lot of gossipy house wives) and everything was right with the world.

But maybe that's just me. Maybe I'm over analyzing the film. Maybe I could have laughed more if I disregarded the blatant discrimination against women working and men staying at home. Maybe I could have enjoyed the film if didn't care about the message. Maybe, just maybe.

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