By Rianne Hill Soriano, Contributor

The gayspeak riot

Posted on November 29, 2013

Movie Review Slumber Party Directed by Emmanuel dela Cruz

SLUMBER PARTY, a Cinema One Originals 2012 entry and the annual festival’s closing film for 2013, is a deliberately engineered romp that directs its energy towards approachable entertainment and countless laughs. With its own rendition of mainstream-style Pinoy melodramatic sensibilities, this film by Emmanuel dela Cruz brings together a patchwork of fun ideas, as well as convenient contrivances, to the story’s slice of homosexual reality in the modern Philippine setting.

RK Bagatsing, Markki Stroem and Archie Alemania as the “tribeki friends” and A scene from Slumber Party
The story follows the friendship of three young adult gays and how they both become captors and guardians to a fraternity neophyte who crashes into their yearly Miss Universe vigil. On the eve of the pageant, they pin down the cute intruder whose task is to burglarize the house as part of his initiation. In no time, the gay BFFs start to fantasize what to do with their straight hostage, which readily puts their friendship to the test. The morning after, their harsh sentiments against each other still persists, while their captive is left with nothing else to do but watch their melodramatic banters. As the Miss Universe pageant telecast begins, they find themselves dumbfounded by the reality outside. They have to face the consequences of their actions, as the townspeople aggressively search for the missing frat boy.

This straight-up gay comedy takes many liberties from the script’s homosexual interactions and the manning up idea of joining a fraternity.

It casually throws in a number of snappy confrontation sequences, as the main characters grapple with their varying life issues and personal desires.

The movie is clearly content in not attempting to twist the story’s commercial tropes. The scenes revel in color, sassy men in drag and drama, big fights and heavy-handed revelations. The rollicking slapstick scattered throughout works well with the sharp delivery of lines.

The ensemble cast works like a charm. More often than not, the scenes that dissolve in a pool of laughter readily upstage the script’s weak spots. The quick wit behind the dialogue makes up for some of the loopholes of the narrative. Punch lines are often relentlessly funny. The enthusiastic actors’ self-referential humor sustains the story’s laughs from start to end. Animated antics fueled by gayspeak and cariño brutal moments pump each scene with really hilarious bits.

RK Bagatsing, Markki Stroem and Archie Alemania as the “tribeki friends” complement each other. There is power and clarity in the way they portray their characters on screen. Bagatsing keeps up with the committed Maria Clara persona of his role. Stroem is always a convincing socialite gay in the circle. Alemania offers a standout performance that really makes every scene he is in a riot. Sef Cadayona endears as a tied up frat boy who alternately expresses disdain and concern over his captors. The special participation of Niño Muhlach as the Gay Mother demands everyone’s attention, stealing the spotlight towards the end for a knockout punch.

The comedy works best when unburdened by advocacy elements that mislead the mere intentions for entertainment to the more socially relevant territory. In specific instances, the film tries hard to combine light affairs with serious LGBT concerns -- to the point of opening the scenes to more serious scrutiny. Although this may be intentional, it actually betrays the fun parts as they gloss over issues like sexual abuse for the sake of staged laughs. It fumbles in its attempt to put more value to its brand of comedy by highlighting the reeducation of a straight man who is denied his freedom during the process. In between parts that perpetuate the stereotypes against the LGBT community, the film decides to sweep the characters’ dastardly deeds under the rug and simply forget the offensive aspect of the story.

MTRCB Rating: R-13