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Metro Manila Film Festival 2022: Cheap and easy laughs

By Joseph L. Garcia, Reporter

Movie ReviewPartners in CrimeDirected by Cathy Garcia-MolinaMTRCB Rating: PG

EVERYONE’S favorite (or at least, most visible) LGBTQ+ TV host, Vice Ganda, thanked his fans via Twitter on Dec. 25, in capital letters, “Maraming-maraming salamat! Nakaka-cry! (Thank you so much! You are making me cry!)” amid reports that their film, Partners in Crime, was in the running for the top grosser of this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF).

We are so not angry. We entered the cinema knowing that Vice Ganda movies are fun, raunchy, and nothing much else, and in times like these, I could use a laugh. So did the gentleman next to me in the back row, who gushed to his companion as he walked out, “Sobrang sulit! (it was worth it!).” At more than P300 a ticket at the cinema, it better be.

Vice Ganda plays Jack, a popular TV host (ha ha!) who needs a quick replacement to take a break, as his vocal cords are about to give out. In flashbacks, it’s told that this has always been a problem. During a bingo game he hosts (pre-fame) where his voice gives out, a pretty member of the audience shouts out the numbers by reading his lips, forming a business partnership hosting several gigs (which are avenues for several gags: the falling baby scene is a must).

At another hosting gig, Jack is discovered by a TV exec, who propels him to fame but compels him to leave his partner behind. In the present time, his made-over former partner, Barbara (played by internet hottie and actress Ivana Alawi), arrives, and vows to take over his career in revenge for the slight years ago. She also changes her name to Rose, making this another Jack and Rose tandem (as in the Titanic movie).

Both are assigned to interview the country’s richest man, Don Bill Libme (Rez Cortez). Both try to out-scoop each other, and disguise themselves as servers for Don Bill’s birthday party — except they find his dead body and are framed for the crime. Following the instructions of Don Bill’s true assassin, who promises to absolve them if they follow his orders to unlock Don Bill’s vault by performing a series of tasks, the two have to work together to clean up the mess.

Ivana Alawi is a delight on screen. She’s very pretty, and proves that she’s more than a pretty face but an actual funny person (or am I just blinded by her beauty?). It’s a running gag that she had been deeply in love with Vice’s character despite his LGBTQ+ status and his own homeliness (his Twitter bio says: “Supermodel turned actress turned horse”).

The series of tasks they need to perform showcase their own talents for physical comedy, and the two throw funny barbs at each other throughout. Another running joke, by the way, is how Ms. Alawi’s ample bosom can be used as a storage area (Vice Ganda levels the joke by using his crotch as the same). Anything else funny is compounded by the fact that Ms. Alawi runs around the movie in a skimpy maid’s uniform, while Vice Ganda does the same in a corset-tux combo. The two also wear a “disguise” of single giant moles on their cheeks, just to add to the absurdity of it all. Dressed like this, the two also have to carry around the limp Rez Cortez.

Would I watch this again? On a streaming service, yes. They’re cheap and easy laughs that don’t need much thinking (if you think about it too hard, it ruins the joke). And Vice does it so well.

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