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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Enteng Kabisote update

You have to hand it to bossing Vic Sotto and director Tony Reyes, as they have turned the Octo-Arts/MZet Enteng Kabisote franchise into a veritable goldmine in this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF). Following in the footsteps of the Shake, Rattle & Roll film series which is on its ninth installment, Enteng takes a bow for the fourth time, and has consistently come up trumps, lording it at the box-office. I have to confess I’m not an avid follower of the films, and so the Enteng Kabisote 4 had to stand on its own, as I wouldn’t be one of those watching from a comfort zone eked out by the first three installments.

Enteng 4 is like watching a stand-up comic on a good night. One would hazard the guess that a basic storyline or plot is hatched before they start filming, but there’s a lot of improvisation and taking from the current headlines to make the film topical and unexpected. And this the film manages to create in typical Tito, Vic and Joey fashion. There’s an art to this, as the humor stays very mainstream, and yet they come up with surprises and neat little vignettes.

The basic storyline starts off with Enteng, wife Faye (Kristine Hermosa) and his family having acquired a time travel mirror, and we’re thrust into the world of Dr. Jose Rizal (played by Jomari Yllana) and our Spanish colonial period. This mirror means enchanted creatures and beings also now have a portal to our present day, and besides Faye’s rejected Prince suitor from the past (i.e. read: Fairy Ko TV series days), played by Michael de Mesa, there’s also a vampire type character (Ian Veneracion), who recruits two petty criminals (Francine Prieto and Arthur Solinap) to wreak havoc on Enteng, his family and inflict a crime spree on the present world. Ina Magenta (originally played by Charito Solis on TV, and now interpreted by G Tongi) is also on hand, as are snippets from the original series — and you’ll appreciate how this feature is brought into play.

This may not be monumental, landmark Philippine Cinema, but one has to pat the producers on their collective backs, because this is entertainment with a capital E, something for everyone. The kids will love the slapstick and set pieces, the chills created as aswang and devil creatures come to life, while the older audience have their own quota of in-jokes, naughty risque humor, and we leave the theater with little nuggets of lessons about family values and bonding.

Among the cameos and support cast, I especially liked Joey de Leon and his spoof of Marimar selling pukka shells on the beach. Knowing Joey’s fertile mind, one can imagine what he does with the wares his character sells. Prieto goes all-out in playing her villainess Dragon Lady-role, almost unrecognizable in the wigs and heavy makeup she’s asked to don, and kudos to her for playing the role with relish and enthusiasm. De Mesa is a wonderful straight villain turned into whining Prince, while Veneracion emanates menace convincingly. I also loved Nonong de Andres’ impersonation of rocker Joey Smith. It was funny and instructional watching the audience react to this. Instructional because it shows just how much in tune Vic and the Enteng series are with their audience.

It certainly helped me understand the magic that the series conjures, and just why so many have taken the films to heart. The comedy and light-heartedness are very comfortable, there’s a palpable sense of the actors on the screen digging you in the ribs and exhorting you to join the fun and laugh with them. Even at the height of action sequences, dramatic love scenes, or confrontation, Vic will still mine the situation for a chuckle or knowing smile, a very Filipino trait, and that’s why the films succeed as they do. [source of news]



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