By Nickky F. P. de Guzman
Meant to Beh
Directed by Chris Martinez
A HIATUS always leads to clearer perspectives. And Vic Sotto should consider his exclusion from last year’s Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) as blessing in disguise because his comeback film, Meant to Beh, is definitely much better than his past Christmas entries — at least the last two movies, My Little Bossings (2014) and My Bebe Love: Kilig Pa More (2015).
Despite its cringe-worthy title, Meant to Beh, is, arguably, Mr. Sotto’s best work in recent years. Criticized last year for the lack of quality of his MMFF submission Enteng Kabisote and the Abangers, which served as the major factor for its rejection as a festival entry, Meant to Beh has seemingly redeemed OctoArts Films’ and its capacity to produce a movie that ought to have — and can follow — a clear storyline.
Meant to Beh has a basic plot: a couple — and their family — is at the brink of separation and disintegration because the core foundation — love — that binds it together is missing. From start to finish, the two-hour film follows this simple premise and stays on track.
The movie tells the story of husband and wife Ron (Mr. Sotto) and Andrea (Dawn Zulueta), who, for 18 years, have been trying to keep their family together despite their lack of affection and common interests. Still, they managed to have three kids, Christian (JC Santos), Alex (Gabbi Garcia), and Riley (Baby Baste). It turns out that theirs was an arranged marriage, which explains the lack of friendship and affection between them. While the couple is temporarily separated, they try dating other people, namely Agatha (Andrea Torres) and Benjo (Daniel Matsunaga). In order to rebuild the family, the children plot ways to stop their parents from successfully entering into new romantic relationships. (Do we even need to mention that the movie ends in a happy ever after?)
Because its story is so basic, Meant to Beh does not have anything new to offer — it only reiterates the tiring role (mis)representations found in classic Filipino movies; e.g. the yaya (nanny) is a Bisaya, a basketball player is always a jerk, and the protagonist’s sidekicks are not as smart and good looking as they are. But it is refreshing in the sense that it does not have any blatant product placements forced to fit in a scene or a cameo by a Filipino superhero character — the banes of MMFF films in recent years. Five-year-old child actor Baby Baste is also a breath of fresh air on screen, thanks to his cute chubby size and still inexperienced acting.
Save for some slapstick skits that aim to elicit giggles and laughter, Meant to Beh is not comedy, but is more of a heartwarming story about and for a Filipino family.
MTRCB Rating: G