By Zsarlene B. Chua, Reporter
Fantastica: The Prince, The Princess, and the Perya
Directed by Barry Gonzales
THIS year, Jose Marie “Vice Ganda” Viceral’s entry to the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) might have avoided the overly obvious product placements of his previous outings, but the people behind the film still made sure their film, Fantastica, would suck in all that blockbuster moolah by stuffing in as many big stars and cameos as they could in the almost two hour-long film.
Fantastica, a fantasy family drama directed by Barry Gonzales stars Vice Ganda as Belat, the daughter of perya (carnival) owner and tightrope performer Fe, played by Jaclyn Jose.
The film’s backstory starts a few years earlier when the carnival Perya Wurtzbach (a play on the name of 2015 Miss Universe Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach), was a very successful venture, attracting thousands every night as the masses come to see Fe perform her death-defying tightrope routine. But a freak accident ends Fe’s performance days and Belat tries to take up the reins and run the carnival. Fifteen years later, the carnival is facing bankruptcy and is threatened by Gang Nam (Ryan Bang) and Dong Nam (Jose Sixto “Dingdong” Dantes III) who want to buy the carnival and create a concert ground in its place. Dong Nam was Belat’s childhood friend who has lived in South Korea since the accident.
While Belat stands her ground in the real world, she gets roped into Prince Pryce’s (Richard Guttierez) mission to free the land of Fantastica from the hands of the fairy godmother (Krysta Elise “Bela Padilla” Sullivan) who made the once-happy fantasy land into a desolate wasteland where its citizens are forced to smile all day long.
The Prince, Belat, her assorted brothers and friends — and for some reason, Dong Nam — decide to band together to find the three princesses: Maulani (Marydale “Maymay” Entrata), Ariella (Kisses Delavin) and Rapunselya (Loisa Andallo) who were banished to Belat’s world.
But here’s the catch, in order to get back to Fantastica, the characters need to collect 10,000 “claughters” (a portmanteau of claps and laughter) and the only way to do that is to open the carnival once more and create a “perfect” show to get those claps and laughter.
(Warning: mild spoilers ahead.)
The movie’s premise and sheer starpower guarantee the film will be a blockbuster, but if you’re expecting something new from Mr. Viceral’s yearly MMFF entry, you’re bound to be disappointed as it is more of the same: innuendos (which makes one question why it’s rated Parental Guidance) and his usual insult comedy.
The crowd of 20 people I watched it with — to be fair, I did watch it at 10:30 a.m. in Ortigas — were laughing at several scenes and were completely silent in others, especially during the jokes where Mr. Viceral pokes fun at the appearance of his co-stars.
It’s not all bad though, as the opening sequence by El Gamma Penumbra — the shadow dance group which won 2015’s Asia’s Got Talent — was decidedly inspired, and the spoofs of romantic films like Hows of Us were spot on and the jokes landed beautifully.
The best jokes were those that broke the fourth wall.
This is Mr. Gonzales’ debut film and it was a decent first film by a director who is very much aware of what kind of film it was meant to be.
Yes, the editing is choppy and sometimes the scene changes give you whiplash, but if there’s anything to take away from this film, it’s that the cast (the multitude of them) had good fun doing Fantastica and it shows: it’s a feel-good if mind-numbing film for people who want to shut down and get a few laughs here and there.
MTRCB Rating: PG