Freeman Cebu Entertainment

Enrique Gil goes raunchy in comeback film ‘I Am Not Big Bird’

Januar Junior Aguja - The Freeman
Enrique Gil goes raunchy in comeback film �I Am Not Big Bird�
“I Am Not Big Bird” director Victor Villanueva, with actors Red Ollero and Enrique Gil
Photo by Januar Junior Aguja

CEBU, Philippines — How raunchy is Enrique Gil’s comeback movie? That was the question that the Cebu press asked the Kapamilya actor who was with Cebuano director Victor Villanueva and comedian Red Ollero when they were at SM City Cebu to promote “I Am Not Big Bird”, in cinemas today, February 14.

The blue comedy focuses on Luis Carpio (Gil) who goes on a trip to Thailand with his friends after a failed engagement proposal. There, they discover that Luis has a doppelganger – a famous pornstar nicknamed Big Bird who disappeared from the public eye.

His mistaken identity as the great schlong adult performer landed him into a series of troubles, from random strangers slapping him on the streets to a mafia boss threatening to cut his privates.

“We didn’t expect it would pass as an R-16 film…it could have gone higher,” Ollero said. As a result, the film produced by ABS-CBN Film’s Black Sheep and ANIMA can secure a wide release with no scenes cut. Had it been an R-18 film, it would not have been allowed in SM Cinemas.

“We were told that all of the jokes had context and wasn’t done for shock factor,” Villanueva explained, while Ollero added, “It’s not like being raunchy for the sake of it. There is taste and context.”

Gil was last seen in the 2020 teleserye “Make It With You” with partner Liza Soberano which was abruptly canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the shutdown of ABS-CBN’s franchise. As the love team went on separate career paths, the Cebuano actor sees this as an opportunity to finally work on the genre he’s always yearned to do.

“It’s always been my dream to make a comedy film. Before this, I was thinking if I told them I want to make a comedy, I am sure ABS-CBN would say not for now since LizQuen was really working,” said Gil, whose Feb. 3 promo show here was his first time back in his parents’ hometown in almost six years.

Villanueva (Patay na Si Hesus, Kidnap for Romance) said he was surprised when he heard that Gil wanted to be part of the adult comedy flick given his heartthrob image.

“This has been in the works for a while and we were shopping it around. One time, our producer [and Head of Anima Studios Bianca Balbuena said that Enrique wanted to do it, and I was like ‘Huh, sure ba?’”, the filmmaker recalled.

“It was exciting to work with Enrique because he hasn’t done something like this which is a comedy that’s all-out raunchy.  I was wondering how far we can go in ‘Big Bird.’ And we went far. We went all out. He doesn’t care if he looks foolish in this movie.”

Written by Lilit Reyes and Joma Libayen, the story was inspired by a real-life experience that Reyes went through when several women in Thailand mistook a friend for someone else they knew. While the film is mostly in Filipino, English, and a little bit of Thai, Cebuano viewers can expect traces of Bisaya humor sprinkled in.

“I have been in Manila long enough so medyo Tagalog na ako with an accent. Even if I adjusted, somehow I still think in Bisaya by default and it’s a good thing because Enrique is Bisaya and we would talk to each other so there is a natural connection,” Villanueva further said.

From doing stand-up to co-starring in the film as one of Gil’s friends, Ollero shared this about his transition from stage to screen: “The biggest difference is there’s no immediate feedback. In standup, the moment you finish the sentence, you will know if the audience is laughing or not.”

Travelling from Cebu to Dumaguete for “Patay Na si Hesus” to shooting on a beach for the iWantTFC Original Series “Beach Bros”, Villanueva considers the shoot in Thailand for “Big Bird” to be “one of his best.”

“We worked with the production team in Thailand and they were so efficient, and their food was the best. They also have a work cut-off of 12 hours. That should be normalized in the Philippines,” he said.

Gil added, “Super light on set, happy lang which is what I want because I felt drained with my serious roles.” — (FREEMAN)

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