An entry to the 2017 Metro Manila Film Festival, Gandarrapiddo: The Revenger Squad stars certified box-office star Vice Ganda, Teen King Daniel Padilla, and Miss Universe 2015 PiaWurtzbach. It revolves around the story of Emy Mariposque (Vice Ganda), who is actually a superhero tasked to save the world through his alter-ego Gandarra. Situations got complicated when he forgot his memories because of his tough battle with Madman (Rk Bagatsing). Twists and turns, and a few outlandish mishaps after, Emy has to get back to his superhero character to be able to save the world, and to unite his family and loved ones, including Chino (Daniel Padilla) and Cassandra (Pia Wurtzbach).
By now, you may have already watched the movie that is reportedly running to be the Festival’s top-grosser. The success of the movie, however, tells a tale of the unfortunate state of the country’s comedy. While it is true that the people deserve to watch what they think is worth their hard-earned money, it must also hold true that producers and creative teams should give the audience an output that it deserves.
Gandarrapiddo, sadly, falls short in any technical aspect of filmmaking, in the same manner that it lacks a strong premise that will potentially be a backbone of a solid narrative. Many will argue that the intention of the movie is not to create a masterpiece of sorts, but to offer something that will make viewers happy afterwards. Nonetheless, happiness is never derived from temporary laughters that will soon be forgotten. Happiness, in the greatest essence of it, is the emotion we feel when we are genuinely satisfied by what the external environment lets us absorb.
Philippine comedy has had a great history, as well as a foundation for social commentary. It has the progressive function to critique and mimic society. Gandarrapiddo, in its best effort, tries to make a social commentary by repeatedly using fake news as an application of the antagonists’ evil plans. This happens in Philippine society, too. Political characters flaunt themselves as pseudo-activists, and useless government officials continuously utilize fake news to further certain political agenda.
Despite the attempt of Gandarrapiddo to use this subject as a discourse, its material does not have the substance to criticize the present sorry phenomenon of fabricating news for political gains. Instead, the movie trivializes fake news without providing a stance that will make people actually rage against it. Again, it may not be the intention of the movie. But, when one has a medium that will obviously be patronized by the difficult-to-please moviegoers, there is a responsibility to give the people something they will actually need in their lives.
It is not to say that people should not watch Gandarrapiddo. Because as it is, the political economy of the country as well as the machinery of the ruling elites make it difficult to escape the urge of watching such films. By all means, the audience should not be blamed here especially when the campaign to promote Gandarrapiddo is not something done just over the course of Metro Manila Film Festival. The branding and exposure of its stars whole-year round make the audience yearn something they will offer during the Christmas season. Hence, television and other commercial exposures of celebrities are the appetizers to the main course that is Gandarrapiddo.
It is not the intention to require future movies in the mold of Gandarrapiddo to be art films or aspiring of an Oscar nod. But the phenomenal success of this kind of movie must be a challenge to offer the audience something they have not seen yet on free television, like the humor it already sees everyday in It’s Showtime, or the fantasy-made-for-kids that could have been better watched in Wansapanataym.
People laugh at the movie not because it is entirely funny, but they are just accustomed to the jokes and characters they laugh at on their television sets everyday.
If the motive of Gandarrappido is to make the people laugh, then it has succeeded. But everyone should bear in mind that laughter must never be cheap. It must, in essence, be derived not on outlandish costumes, outrageous plots and noisy banters, but on the core of wit and humor that Philippine comedy must be known for, and is actually good at.