Ferdinand S. Topacio - The Philippine Star

Movie review: Shoot shoot

Shoot Shoot is an honest film, in that it does not pretend to be anything else but something that will make you laugh — or at least strive mightily to do so — for one hour and a half. It is headlined by the redoubtable singer-composer-comedian Andrew Espiritu (a.k.a. Andrew E.), who has managed to stay relevantly funny for all of 20 or so years, not only through sheer talent, but for his ability to morph his rap music into something that is always current.

From his 1990 starrer Humanap Ka Ng Panget (named after his debut monster hit of the same title), Andrew has, through thirty-odd films, perfected the persona of the hapless victim of circumstances, well-meaning but prone to hijinks. This he plays to flawlessness opposite Viva’s flavor of the month AJ Raval, whose character (Anghelita) is that of a boyish, eager-beaver BFF to Andrew’s Jack.

The characters in this movie live in an impoverished town, where a lot of the inhabitants are gambling addicts, so much so that many of them have their lands in hock to Joker (Juliana Pariscova), the local gambling lord. Jack — who is engaged to the airhead Liwayway (Sunshine Guimary) — seeks to improve his lot by becoming an actor, spending all his money on auditions. Thus, he is deeply in debt to Aling Chessa (Weng Quejada), Anghelita’s mother and a loan shark. Aside from his parents, he shares his house with his cousin Pong (Wilbert Ross, in his film debut), his younger cousin who has sojourned to Jack’s town in search of hidden treasure.

One day, Jack lands a role as the sole heir of an ailing billionaire. Rehearsing his script at home, he is overheard by Aling Chessa talking on the phone to his fictional uncle and saying that he is ready to receive his inheritance. Thinking that it was all real, she volunteers to lend him more money. Then word starts to spread about Jack’s new-found affluence. The entire town is turned upside down as everyone — except Anghelita, who is in on it — starts treating him differently. The bachelorettes start throwing themselves at him, Liwayway tries to rush their marriage (although he is cheating on him with Leon, played by Ali Khatabi), and everyone wants him to get them out of their gambling debts.

It is in the unrepentantly silly interactions between Jack and the assorted characters in the movie, where it gets most of its laughs. It plays like an extended sitcom, and while some of the jokes are corny, and a few quite old, gags are thrown at the audience with such frequency that many of them manage to hit the spot. And to be fair, there are a number that bring out belly laughs.

To the credit of director Al Tantay, he managed to make the film’s pacing so fast that even when a joke falls flat, a new one comes along, so the viewer does not have time to get bored. The humor that works best are of the ribald double entendre kind, with which the movie is replete. And ultimately, what makes the movie click is the dedicated acting of the game cast. Andrew, of course, is a given, extremely funny with his facial expressions even when not saying anything, but AJ Raval also does her share, treading the fine line between seriously playing her character and an awareness that the whole exercise is only tongue-in-cheek, with hilarious results.

Sunshine’s acting has the screen character of Ruffa Mae Quintos as her peg, and she is mostly effective. The rest of the cast also deliver more or less competently, although Ali’s preposterous performance (delivering lines like an elementary student in a school play) sticks out like a sore thumb. Special mention must be made of Juvz Tesalona (who is also the film’s associate producer), for playing it like a pro as Aling Mona, mother of the town nymphet Sabel (Shane Vasquez), and newcomer Angel Arcega as Paula, one of the “car wash girls,” for standing out above the rest of the support due to her natural charisma and appeal.

It must be mentioned that the movie has more than its share of skin, with a car wash dream sequence that is but an excuse to show AJ and the other winsome ladies in wet T-shirts. In addition, Sunshine, Shayne and veteran Sheree Bautista also had moments of flashing some flesh. But then again, this is after all a sexy comedy, and if the eroticism is a come-on to attract a wider male audience, it is just par for the course.

If you don’t over analyze it, don’t look for any transcendental lessons (which the movie never claims to have anyway), and just submit yourself to its offer of giving you escape from the real world for an hour and a half, then Shoot hits the bull’s-eye.

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