Direk Olive’s successful foray into comedy
STAR BYTES - Butch Francisco () - March 2, 2002 - 12:00am
Olivia Lamasan first impressed critics when she wrote the script of Laurice Guillen’s movie on autism, Ipagpatawad Mo, which won for her the Best Screenplay award in the 1991 Gawad Urian.

When she tried directing for film (Maalaala Mo Kaya, the Movie) three years later, she also turned out to be a competent director. Under her direction, Aiko Melendez won her first Best Actress trophy in the 1994 Manila Film Festival (the year of the scam) and in the Film Academy of the Philippines. Co-star Caridad Sanchez won Best Supporting Actress in the Manila Filmfest and Star Awards, while another cast member, Chin Chin Gutierrez, won in the same category in the Urian.

A year later, Lamasan wowed critics with her excellent work in Sana Maulit Muli which won Best Picture in the Gawad Urian. Aga Muhlach was hailed Best Actor, while his co-star Lea Salonga was nominated as Best Actress in all the award-giving bodies.

Her subsequent works – Hanggang Kailan Kita Mamahalin, Madrasta and Minsan, Minahal Kita – may not have measured up to Sana Maulit Muli (Madrasta was a very good movie though), but we can’t deny any more the fact that Lamasan is now one of the more important directors in the country today. (Although we can’t say that she’s one of the most prolific – based on her very short list of works.)

Looking at the titles of her works, her movies have all been dramas – as in heavy drama. I was therefore curious to find out how she’d fare given a light romantic comedy like Got 2 Believe, which opened in movie theaters last Wednesday.

Got 2 Believe
casts Claudine Barretto as a professional wedding planner, who – ironically enough – is in danger of not being able to plan her own wedding because at age 25, she has never had a boyfriend. Of course, she’s not bad looking or dumb. It’s just that she’s not your typical girl-next door type boys would want to bring home to Mama. She’s clumsy and has a tendency to come on too strong. And she’s got weird taste, too – especially in fashion as reflected in her out-of-this-world wedding motifs). Among those who find her behavior strange is the ambitous young photographer Rico Yan. They would have made a good pair, except that they’ve been like cat and dog from Day One. In the end, of course, they still end up with each other – what did you expect?

What I like about Got 2 Believe is that it doesn’t have pretentions. It’s a light romantic comedy film – so enjoy it. And what a fun and energetic film it is. Actually, most of the film’s humor borders on the absurd. It is absurd, however, in a very delightful way.

The story provided by Mia Concio is really quite simple. But padded with a lot of well-thought out comical situations, the film becomes rich and develops texture. A lot of creativity obviously went to its writing and in the staging of its scenes.

At one point while I was watching it, I felt quite disappointed with the film because of this one toilet humor. (It’s the one with Nikki Valdez excusing herself to go to the bathroom). Little did I know that this one offensive scene was actually leading into one wildly hilarious moment in the film (with poor Nikki finding herself without water in the bathroom and, later, getting trapped in there). In a snap, I found myself laughing my heart out and forgiving the writer and director for that one toilet humor.

The film’s cast members – Claudine, Rico, Nikki, Carlo Muñoz, Vhong Navarro and Dominic Ochoa – also deserve credit and praise for loosening up and giving their all to make this comedy work.

Claudine is particularly refreshing in this movie – so different. After appearing in all those weepy soap operas, it’s a thrill to watch her in a comic role. Of course, she’s still no threat to our top comediennes like Nova Villa and Tessie Tomas. But with proper guidance from her director, she succeeds in being funny in this movie. Best of all, she’s what we call in the colloquial as game na game. Sure, the effort sometimes shows. But all in all, I’m giving her the thumbs up for having taken this journey into the comic lane.

In the same manner, I’m also taking my hat off to Olivia Lamasan for this brave attempt at trying out comedy. Although drama is obviously her forte, she still succeeds in her foray into comedy because of diligence and hard work. And the result clearly shows on the screen in this wonderfully entertaining film.

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