There’s a gag in 100 where Eugene Dominggo and the dying Mylene Dizon was having an Ate Vi movie marathon, being one of the 100-something things the best friends would do before Mylene dies. Someday, there would be a film, a comedy maybe, that would have the same gag, a remake of 100 why not, that would have the characters do a Eugene Dominggo movie marathon which will definitely include her latest, the Chris Martinez-written and directed Here Comes the Bride. Bride will be special and memorable because in one of those surprising and pleasant instances of scene stealership, somebody in the same film as Eugene D gets to steal the show and this one time, it’s Angelica Panganiban, who does one of the funniest, most convincing babaeng bakla roles ever.
In the 90s a daring acting career move would involve shedding a starlet’s clothes off for major Seiko Films/OctoArts film project. Seiko Films don’t do films now, sadly, which meant that starlets now only have FHM as a means to announce their Daring Career Move. It’s much different though for smarter artistas, Angelica Panganiban being one of those smart ones. In the film, she’s daring alright but not in the way that Abby Viduya was when she did major vaginal flashing in Sutla. Angelica Panganiban did a lighter version of that sort of role in Santa Santita where she did a much ballyhooed, major torrid smoochfest with Jericho Rosales. And that was mostly it. In Here, she’s still ‘daring’ and so game, she uses her assets to great comedic effect, unafraid to make fun of herself as as she should. Her gayspeak is so flawless and so natural. What makes her so special I think is that she’s always been a careful articulator of words, something the likes of Kim Chiu would maybe want to learn. She’s not too mannered a performer that when she says spluk, epek, wit and aura, immortal entries in the gay webster, it’s never hindered by self-consciousness, that they might come off too exaggerated because aren’t gays who speak these always exaggerated. And if her TV show Rubi is any indication, Angelica has an all natural fag hag aura. Not that that’s effortless (maybe it is) but she’s always been the type of performer who examines her roles that certain tics and mannerisms never seem phoned in.
But it’s not just The Angelica Panganiban Show. Eugene is stellar as usual. Her spastic attorney is too broad to be really funny but that’s never been a detriment to what she can do to make any role laugh out loud funny. The bonggang-bonggang bougainvillea and scramble is yummy scenes are enough to meet her funny quota but her top billage in this assures she gets to do more, the major one being those parts where she does the pa-girl bride to be whose softiness fits well with her as usual unmatched comedic gift, one that lets her pull off any character, that lets her switch seamlessly from being a spaz to a softy. In a thankfully restrained role, John Lapus is able to throw in a performance that never for a moment seemed cartoonish, having to do a dirty old man role, something that is a stretch for his usually shrill gay roles. The veteran Jaime Fabregas, who you always see as a weak, rich old man, puts a twist on the sickly DOM role and so funnily pulls of all the other personas, all 4 of them. The underrated Tuesday Vargas gets to shine too, and with this cast at that, equally impressive as a yaya-turned-feisty lawyer. Her reciting the labor laws to her erstwhile bosses is one of the film’s funniest scenes and it is for roles like this that stars are sometimes made of.
Chris Martinez does it again with this film which will rank among his best, all 3 of them, what with his cutely executed character introductions in the beginning, Angelica as the pa-tweetums bride to be, John Lapus as the just heartbroken ‘image-stylist’, Jaime Fabregas as the horny-frail wedding financier, Tuesday Vargas as the oppressed and bullied Bisaya yaya, and Eugene Dominggo as the Miriam Defensor Santiago-like, old maid attorney, an impeccably assembled ensemble cast who worked off of each others’ roles, as the story demanded, a body-switch tale that will go down in history as one of the best body-switch movies ever made. Bride will be known as one of the best comedies ever made period. But isn’t it a little too obvious already to pronounce Chris Martinez films, Chris Martinez things as one of the best ever whatever when they’re made available for public consumption? He’s only made 3, all of which I personally consider masterpieces and that’s certainly not enough.
Don’t you just love how Martinez treats his audience as a thinking audience, one that shouldn’t have to be pounded over the head with a gag and be made to understand that that was joke, now laugh, such as in the scene where a beautician sees his fellow beautician having sex with a girl, runs away from the horrific scene and pukes real looking puke. No fancy sped-up effect and no goofy soundtrack to cue us in on the funny thing that just happened. He trusts that we will get it. And how can we not.