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06 June 2013

“Huwag Mong Itanong Kung Nasaan ang Apple Kasi Tayo ang Lechon! Tanungin Mo Kung Sino ang Lumilitson sa Atin” (Jade Castro's "Juana C. The Movie)

Rating: 3/5
Directed by Jade Castro / Written by
Rody de Vera 
Alternative Title: “Do Not Ask Where the Apple Is Because We are the Lechon! If You Know What Juana Means…” (A Review for “Juana C. The Movie)

Fewer than thirty people watched “Juana C., The Movie” on its first day of screening in Trinoma Cinema 4.  It is not even the matinee screening or the last full show. I watched the movie at 7:25, the prime time slot.  Unfortunately, this kind of comedy is yet to find an audience in the Philippines.  Most English-educated Filipinos who can spare 190 pesos for a ticket would prefer to watch “The Hangover Part III” or “After Earth” despite the dismal reviews the two films received from local and foreign critics alike.

Even sadder, perhaps the same people also flocked to watch Vice Ganda’s comedy movies or his sold-out concert and they laughed at Vice’s jokes but quickly abandoned the poor comedian when some of his jokes became controversial.

As I stood in line to buy ticket, I overheard two young people behind me chose “The Hangover III” with a hint of frustration because they really wanted to watch “Epic” or “After Earth” but somehow they could not.  They busily talked to each other while both holding their Android phones.  Of course, watching a political satire like “Juana C.” will never enter the minds of these two twentysomething-looking people.  Why should they? They are first class citizens living in a city becoming more First World in a Third World country. 

Sometimes, I feel that I am not in the Third World whenever I fall in line to buy a movie ticket or buy food in a restaurant that does not have “pinakbet” on the menu.  I just hear accents, accents and more accents, and even people trying their best to speak the Queen’s language.  This always reminds me of some of the foreign students who study Tagalog in our school. To help them practice, I speak to them in pure Tagalog, and speaking 100 percent Tagalog is actually more sophisticated and more poetic than speaking in Taglish. 

But I digress. 

“Juana C., The Movie” is not perfect but it is better than most recent local comedies. The special effects in the beginning of the movie looked amateurish but the heart of the film make up for its shortcomings, which I suspect is due to budget constraint.  Luckily, the movie is hilarious.  In fact, the movie may seem to contain the usual toilet and crass jokes but upon careful scrutiny (if you manage to stop laughing), the jokes bite.  “Juana C.” is a classic political farce and even the “fat jokes” deliver comedic irony.  I do not know exactly if this movie was made before the infamous Vice Ganda joke about Jessica Soho regarding “the lechon and the apple” became famous.  Regardless, the “the lechon and the apple” scene in this movie is quite sardonic because Juana Change is the one delivering the joke.  Yes, a plus size female comedian is making the fat jokes and playing the sex kitten.  The butt of jokes becomes the joker and in so doing, the victim deconstructs the joke exposing the audience who laugh unquestionably.  Vice Ganda should learn a thing or two from Juana Change and her people. 

I usually review Filipino films in Tagalog but this time around, I thought it would be appropriate to write in English. After all, only we English-literate Filipinos who are lucky enough to have jobs can spare 190 pesos.  The rest of the residents of Metro Manila do not have a choice but to use this 190 pesos to buy breakfast, lunch and dinner, or 190 is allowance for two or three elementary students studying in a public school. I also suspect that corrupt politicians have already pocketed part of the budget of the school.

[Alert: this paragraph contain a spoiler. Skip this paragraph, if you choose]
“Juana C.” the movie may fail in the box office just as Juana Change’s character almost failed in the film.  After all, who would watch a plus size female unpopular comedian telling Filipinos to look closely at the corruption in our country?

I was apprehensive at first as I wait for the movie to start. What if I like it? My taste has never been commercial. Most of the movies and music that I like ended up becoming flops, except in some rare occasions like “Kimmy Dora” (the first one not the sequel) and “Ang Babae sa Septic Tank.”

Alas, I really enjoyed “Juana C., The Movie” and so I left the cinema sad. Oh dear, fewer than thirty people came to see this film. It will be a flop and its message buried and forgotten.  I hope this is one of those rare occasions when I am wrong, and “Juana C.” will actually become a hit.

I guess that is all up to you.

Watch it! Bravo Juana Change!

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