Thursday, June 28, 2018

Review of WALWAL: Familiar Formula

June 28, 2018

I am not exactly sure when this millennial term "walwal" meaning "drink till you drop" began to be in use, but I only learned of it about two years or so ago, and not by personal experience, mind you. I do not exactly like seeing young people drinking alcohol, but I thought I should see this film to get an insight into the mindset of the college students now.

Dondi dela Cruz (Elmo Magalona) is taking up pre-law, following his father's wishes. One day, he was unexpectedly jilted by his girlfriend Carla (Jane de Leon). The suddenness of this breakup, and the harsh reason behind it, is causing him a lot of distress. 

Marco Castillo (Kiko Estrada) is the certified playboy (or in their words, a "f*boy") of the group. One day, he got involved with Trina (Devon Seron), a girl working in a networking company, a relationship which was about to change his womanizing ways. 

Bobby Fernandez (Donny Pangilinan) is a film major who constantly had a Go-Pro in his hand, documenting everything happening around him. One day, he met a cute and kooky classmate Ruby (Kisses Delavin), who turned out to be a serious film nerd like him.

Anthony "Intoy" Marquez (Jerome Ponce) could only study in East Pacific College because he is under a volleyball scholarship. His mother Ramona (Angeli Bayani), once an Urian-nominated actress who starred in bold indie films in her younger days, now ran a carinderia with her three kids from different dads. One day, Intoy asked about his dad.

Among the four guys, Jerome Ponce had the heavier story line to pull off and he did creditably, and he had to share scenes with acting heavyweight Angeli Bayani (who was simply so good as his mother). Elmo Magalona was good, but limited by the uneven way his character was written. Kiko Estrada knew his ace as he mainly played up his rascally good looks, coming across very natural in his "kilig" scenes. Donny Pangilinan tended to look awkward in his scenes, but this did fit his role.

Among the girls, it was Kisses Delavin who stood out with her delightful portrayal of Ruby, an eccentric girl who would rather be weird than boring. I enjoyed the movie trivia Ruby and Bobby were throwing at each other. Devon Seron did her part the best she could, even if her Trina could have been given more dramatically challenging scenes to do. Jane de Leon looked very photogenic in those glamor pictures of Carla that Dondi had on his phone.

Of course, with a title like "Walwal," scenes of teenagers drinking alcohol in a bar (of the rowdy type or the miserable type) were in there. Fortunately, these were not as long or as many as I was dreading, especially since this film was rated PG. There were also scenes with curse words, which unfortunately seem to be normal among the young these days. 

Like "Bagets" did back in 1984, this film cautions its young audience against being impulsive and careless in their decisions and actions. Honestly, the problems encountered by the boys -- taking a course he did not like, being dumped by a girl, getting a girl pregnant, cheating in exams, seeking out an absent father, among others -- had all been previously tackled in any of several local teen films. Even the dialogue in these scenes sound familiar. Really, do we really need to hear another "Sigurado ka bang akin yan?" ("Are you sure that is mine?")

Despite this, senior director Jose Javier Reyes still managed to make the film fresh and current with several imaginative little twists here and there in the storytelling. They all encountered sticky problems, yes, but they do not always get the easy way out, and are forced to learn tough lessons from each other's experiences. The disarming performances of the four lead stars gave the film its own charm and their female fans their thrills. 

As a parent, I was told that these Gen Z kids still need parental support (aside fraternal) despite their seeming over-confidence in themselves, but of course, I already knew that. I just wished they could have shown more about proactive parenting than the typical stereotype parents we were shown here.  7/10. 

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