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30 August 2012

Chris Martinez’s “I Do Bidoo Bidoo” (Rebyu): The Incomplete Laughable Man and the Politics of Tokenism” or “Just Shut Up and Enjoy it Bro!”

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The movie had a good start, a simple mini-overture, and this signaled the audience to start suspending its collective disbelief.  Yes, we are about to watch a musical, with all the clichés attached to it; never mind if this one will remind you of “Mamma Mia.”  If “Mamma Mia” had Meryl Streep, “I Do Bidoo Bidoo” had Eugene Domingo.  As always, Domingo dominated the screen.  She looked the part of an overworked and loving working class mother. Most surprisingly, she sang good, becoming more of a singing actor than an acting singer.  Ogie Algacid’s voice has never been more melodic and honed and he has actually grown as an actor.  Sam Concepcion’s performance was a revelation and this young man has shown more versatility than most up and coming, but overrated, heartthrobs.  Zsa Zsa Padilla sang with her heart, giving added layers to the lyrics. Unfortunately, somebody in the wardrobe department must have hated her.  That is the only explanation why she had to wear those unflattering and slightly inappropriate dresses and hairdos. Gary Valenciano showed us that he can be a dramatic actor as well.  As expected, Jaime Fabregas was superb.  Tippy de los Santos, the film’s ingénue, was a breath of fresh air. She can actually sing and if given more training and experience, she may evolve into a better actress, or she may just simply follow the path of many mestizas in the industry.  The other delights of the movie were Domingo’s two hilarious sidekicks who can belt out songs in their sleep.  Frenchie Dy and Sweet Plantado deserve a musical of their own.

In the beginning, “I Do Bidoo Bidoo” seemed to be heading in a good direction until director Chris Martinez decided to add another cliché, an antiquated one at that.  I am talking about that unnecessary addition of a closeted gay character in love with his straight best friend, and brace yourself, the bading is satisfied furtively loving his straight buddy.  Not even a great Apo Hiking Society song can neutralize the awful taste that this twentieth century notion left on the film.  But, do not worry; thanks to the politics of tokenism, Martinez attempted a save.  Of course, his tokenism will work with straight moviegoers only, the bulk of the population, so everyone is happy.  Well, everyone that I do not give a damn about anyway.

What Martinez may be telling us is that a gay man is still an incomplete man and gay affection is still laughable.  Just listen to the uproarious laughter of the straight moviegoers at every scene the gay character was in.  They swoon when Sam and Tippy kiss, but they laugh at gay feelings. Oh, well.  That is the way the heterosexual cookie crumbles. But can somebody please tell Martinez that it is already the twenty-first century? Gay men have a full list of hunky gay men to choose from.  They are far too busy juggling other gay men than wasting their time on a straight boy who gets a teenage girl pregnant.  We really need to get serious on sex education or pass the RH bill as soon as possible before our  centers for unwed mothers become inundated with singing pregnant teens.

Do not get me wrong. I do find “I Do Bidoo Bidoo”  highly entertaining, filled with good performances, and kudos for Martinez for creating an endearing story using hits from the Apo Hiking Society.  (Notice how I just back tracked there.  Consider it film criticism tokenism.)  Bottom line, just shut up, watch this film and enjoy.  You will love this one if you are not that marginalized enough.

However, the real gems of this film are the songs, adeptly re-arranged for the new generation of moviegoers.  I have never heard a bad Apo Hiking Society song in my life.  Boboy Garovillo, Danny Javier and Jim Paredes (in alphabetical order) are real geniuses and no one in the current music industry has even come close to their level.  They sing about love: from the moment we fall for someone, the problems we encounter as lovers, the pain of separation, and the joy of finding love once more.  They remind us the value of family and friends, as well as the absurdity and bliss in life.  On top of that, Apo also reminds us that it is not just about pure entertainment, artists must also have a social agenda, and this is the deficiency of the movie. If the filmmakers had chosen songs from other artists, “I Do Bidoo Bidoo” would have been fine, and I would be as perky as a paid writer. But because we are talking about the Apo Hiking Society, a simple love story that sugar coats clichés in the Philippines is not enough.  This does not do justice to Apo. But then again, this movie will surely be a hit so “all’s well that ends well.”  

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