“It’s either you watch the one with Vic Sotto or the movie with the gay comedian. Personally, I’d go with the gay comedian.”
And that – my friends – is why I decided to watch Praybeyt Benjamin 2 over My Big Bossing. You can thank my big sis for helping me out pick which MMFF film to review next. Besides, I was genuinely curious in knowing how Praybeyt Benjamin 2 became MMFF’s blockbuster darling. People expect that it’s going to be horrible, but to make such a claim means that you still have to watch and review it nonetheless.
Being MMFF’s blockbuster darling, it’s quite evident that the movie has been reviewed several times. There’s even one in Rappler, which greatly summarizes what the movie really is about. But if that’s the case? Then why should I review it when it has already been done so in the past, several times even? It’s more of I noticed – at least, personally – that most of the reviews come from people within the movie or commercial art industry. Yet, I rarely see any reviews from average Filipinos like us. I mean, before you try and claim that I’m not part of the target audience – meaning, I’m not part of the masa – consider this.
Just by buying the movie tickets alone, I saw a huge line of people just waiting to get their opportunity to watch Praybeyt Benjamin 2. Sure, you can argue that SM Bicutan is known to be the hangout of jejemons ang gangstahs, but do remember that SM Bicutan is also visited frequently by the middle class. The mall itself is within the vicinity of one of the country’s largest middle class subdivisions – Better Living. Evidently, it can be said that Vice Ganda’s allure is not strictly limited with the masa, but has also spilled over among the Filipino middle class. This can be attributed to Vice Ganda’s strong personality making her the country’s most famous comedian, for better or worse.
And yes, I’ll be referring to Vice Ganda as a “her”. You know why? Cause social justice, bitch.
Praybeyt Benjamin 2 merely legitimizes the extent of which Vice Ganda has a strong influence when it comes to contemporary Filipino pop culture. So long as it has Vice Ganda in it, it will sell – and it will sell big time!
I started waiting in line 20 minutes before the movie began. Boy oh boy, was it crowded! I saw families genuinely excited for the latest Vice Ganda comedic antics. I saw a group of LGBTs pretending to be like Vice Ganda. Everywhere I looked, it seemed that I was the only person not in sync with the Vice Ganda fever sweeping the Philippines. I went in, saw a single seat amid the jam-packed theater – then a loud, generic cinematic background music signaled the appearance of the opening credits. It was then, that I muttered to myself:
“Oh God, what am I doing?”
The movie begins with a scene showing a typical provincial airport in the Philippines. I could see the airport terminal in the background, with several giant cardboard-made letters grouped into a name: Charles de Gaulle Airport. Wait, the setting is suppose to be France? The movie can’t even afford to rent an area within NAIA at least? It’s quite obvious from the get go that the movie would not only be cheap in its jokes, but would also be cheap in its set design. No effort was given from the film makers and producing studio to make the movie feel as legitimate as possible. In the first 10 minutes of the movie alone, I was even questioning myself if I was watching an actual movie in the first place. Because honestly, it felt like watching an expensive student-made video project rather than a studio-funded and produced movie.
No care in the world was given for the outlandish and brainless humor that was portrayed in the film. This was pretty evident when the movie greeted its audiences with Vice Ganda trying to utter terribly-accented French phrases. Oh and since this is a Vice Ganda film, let’s fill the extras with lots and lots of guys with well-chiseled muscles and abs! Yeah, not even the cast’s good looks could hide their terrible acting skills. And the horrible part? That’s just the first 10 minutes. After you bare witness to the brainless humor and terrible acting, it’s segment after segment of jokes from there!
This is the problem with the movie. There is practically no difference between the movie and Vice Ganda’s other tv shows. It is merely a show within a comedy bar trying to portray itself as a film. You want a narrative? There’s practically none! You want characters which you can relate with? What characters? They’re all plot devices for Vice Ganda’s impending ridicule.
You are better off watching Vice Ganda’s talk show if you’re a fan of her brand of humor. At least her talk show doesn’t pretend to be a movie.
And that’s pretty much the reason why Filipinos go and see Praybeyt Benjamin 2. We don’t watch it for the story, heck not even for the supporting actors present in the film. The reason why Praybeyt Benjamin 2 became an instant hit is because Filipinos love Vice Ganda. Vice Ganda has enthralled us with her brand of comedy bar style of humor, and we pay for it literally with cash – hook, line and sinker. Whether it’s the media’s fault for conditioning us to like this brand of entertainment – or it’s our fault for supporting it in the first place – is up to debate. The point is, her humor sells. The fact that the movie industry has sold out for more profit-oriented causes means that studios will continue making films like these since they’re pretty much cash cows for these companies.
For Vice Ganda and the movie, everything is done for the joke – no matter how brainless or undignifying it is. In fact, a line from the movie perfectly summarizes what Praybeyt Benjamin 2 really is about:
“Ikaw kasi puro ka na lang joke at hirit” (That’s because you only care about joking and ridiculing)
And that’s the entire movie right there folks! Vice Ganda’s in-movie mother has saved you the trouble of watching an hour and 45 minutes of terrible film making, by summarizing the movie in 5 seconds. Praybeyt Benjamin 2 would take you to the darkest corners of the cinema world just to try and elicit that sweet sound of laughter. They would break any established rule in film making, and do so for all the wrong purposes. Even the more dramatic moments in the movie were not spared by Vice Ganda’s ridicule. It’s in these moments where her jokes are bordering tasteless and disrespectful – and that’s coming from me, who’s usually very liberal when it comes to free speech! It’s just that bad!
Even the most post-modern artworks adhere to certain rules of art. Praybeyt Benjamin 2 takes the rules of cinema making, uses it as toilet paper to rub off shit, flushes it down the toilet and sends it to the most polluted areas of Pasig River. If you think you have the patience and discipline to handle 1 hour and 45 minutes of pure horror, think again.
I honestly wanted to laugh, but any and all efforts to try and look for even the smallest value of comedy was buried alive by Vice Ganda’s lack of demeanor. Okay, there were at least 2 or 3 giggle-worthy moments in the movie – I mean, the president’s portrayal in the film made me giggle a bit – but such gems were quickly thrown away when Vice Ganda decided to stretch the outer limits towards kingdom come. These very few comedic gems within the movie quickly turned sour as soon as you see them. Abandon all hope, ye who enter here – or ye to those who plan to watch Praybeyt Benjamin 2.
The worst part was not the lack of overall narrative, the horribleness of the jokes, nor the one-dimensional character portrayals and acting – which at times, even the remaining dimension of characters would be broken just to support Vice Ganda’s already horrendous jokes. The fact that Bimbi Yap was part of the film, I should have expected that this woman would come along.
This woman, the final nail to the movie’s coffin
Yup, this woman decided to show her face in the middle part of the film. God, it was her presence and annoying over-the-top acting that made me do the worst thing an audience member can do when watching the movie. I opened my smartphone, accessed the internet, and went online in Facebook. That’s right, I gave the proverbial middle finger to the entire movie. Hey, since Kris Aquino has tagged along with the movie – let’s reference her other movie as well! Oh! Praybeyt Benjamin knows how to reference movies now! Such a smart thing to do, it should be funny.
Obviously, I was being sarcastic. Most reviews remain sophisticated in their words when panning Praybeyt Benjamin 2. But for this review, no. This movie doesn’t deserve sophistication, it deserves a no-nonsense review that would directly call out its bullshit. No flowery words, no movie jargons, just pure and honest reviewing.
I posted this in Facebook while watching the movie. If only reviews can be summarized in a couple of sentences.
This movie is horrible. So horrible, that I’d actually prefer to watch Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender over this! At least The Last Airbender had a plot, even though it was poorly executed. And the fact that we actually found a film more horrible than The Last Airbender, means that Praybeyt Benjamin 2 deserves a 0/10 overall score! Of course, that sounds ridiculous. So the lowest score that I can give is at least a 1/10.
I haven’t even tackled much on how supporting characters would suddenly disappear without any sort of context, or the generic and cheaply done sound and visual effects, or even the sorry ass excuse for action fight scenes. No! They don’t matter anyway for the movie. Because what only matters is that Vice Ganda makes a joke, uses whatever tools at her disposal to make said joke – whether ridiculing a supporting character or herself – then we’re expected to laugh. And to think, that people genuinely find her comedic antics funny. It just goes to show how strong Vice Ganda’s allure is with her fans.
Going beyond Praybeyt Benjamin 2, honestly there are times that I do find her funny. But for most of the time, we find her funny for all the wrong reasons. When we have Praybeyt Benjamin 2 as the #1 grossing movie in the 2014 MMFF, what does that tell us about our movie industry? What does that even tell us as a society? For her fans, you can ridicule me for calling this movie what it really is – garbage.
Oh, but you like movies that also use toilet humor right? What about The Interview? What about Team America: World Police?
Yeah, I’m not even sure why some people would dare to compare Praybeyt Benjamin 2 with these well-made comedy films. You know what’s the difference? Well made comedy films like The Interview or Team America: World Police actually make a strong point through its overall narrative. Toilet humor is merely used as a plot device to drive that point even further. That’s why we genuinely laugh at these types of films, not necessarily for the toilet humor but more because of the point that it’s trying to make. Praybeyt Benjamin 2 sees this as the other way around. It puts central focus on toilet humor, then uses narrative as its plot device.
By doing this, you only get a sorry state of a movie. In fact, the only thing that you’re probably gonna laugh about is not the scenes portrayed in Praybeyt Benjamin 2 – but the circumstance you’re in that you actually decided to watch Vice Ganda’s film in the first place.