Metro Manila Film Festival 2023: Camp, comedy, cinema

Metro Manila Film Festival 2023: Camp, comedy, cinema

Movie Review
Becky and Badette
Directed by Jun Robles Lana
MTRCB Rating: PG

By Brontë H. Lacsamana, Reporter

THERE is no doubt that Jun Robles Lana is a master of camp and comedy. His latest film Becky and Badette, which follows the antics of best friends Becky Naman (played by Eugene Domingo) and Badette Imaculada (Pokwang), is hilarious.

The two leads are already known comediennes, but never have they been given such great material to work on together. As the titular duo, they knock it out of the park with Vilma Santos imitations, double entendres, and quick-witted pop culture-related humor.

It starts off with them as cleaners and informal chicken vendors at a high-rise building, their dream to be music or TV stars simply unreachable. Then, they attend a high school reunion organized by their batchmate, ad agency executive Nirvana Batungbakal (played by Agot Isidro in all her snooty, bitchy glory). There, the two come face to face with their failures and drunkenly make up stories to get attention — by claiming that they are a lesbian couple.

Naturally, their antics are filmed (complete with the two tearfully singing Becky’s chicken-themed song “Finggah-Lickin’”) and the video is uploaded online, instantly going viral. Their whirlwind journey begins, turning them into hitmaking and TV-starring lesbian celebrities almost overnight.

They promise to come clean to the public that fell in love with their “coming out” video, but when aspiring musician Becky gets an offer to make an album and aspiring actress Badette lands a lead role in a TV show, telling the truth quickly becomes less of a priority. The failures in life, suddenly faced with success, dig themselves into a deeper hole by leaning into the lie.

Of course, the film acknowledges this behavior is problematic. Becky and Badette’s gay friend tells them he is “somewhat bothered” by what they’ve done and the two do feel guilty. But the way they still make one dumb decision after another, leading into a downward spiral of dishonesty, is hilarious.

It is this year’s standout, providing a one-two punch of camp and comedy, of Ms. Domingo and Pokwang, of outlandish costumes and bright color palettes. This writer watched in a theater that erupted in laughter the entire time, both the LGBTQ+ and the straights in the crowd.

Romnick Sarmienta was enthralling as the heartthrob that nearly tears their friendship and their elaborate lie apart, Pepe Feniz (yes, the name made people chuckle every time it was mentioned). However, the whole schtick about Becky and Badette trying to discreetly pine for and pursue him gets old pretty fast, taking time away from the actual plot.

While emotional beats wane a bit here and there in service of laughs, which is a shame since the film tackles worthwhile topics like fame, friendship, and queerbaiting, you gotta applaud the comedy gold in this — that catchy finggah lickin’ song (which the MMFF awarded Best Original Theme Song), the well-placed nail cutter joke, the insensitive oyster bar ad campaign, the reference to 2022 film Triangle of Sadness! There is just lots to laugh about, which means this comedy did its job.

As a distinctly Filipino form or absurdist comedy, it seemingly never runs out of fun scenarios. The musical numbers are a joy to watch, with good camera work by Kara Moreno and deliciously colorful production design by Jaylo Conanan. But mostly, it is carried by the star power and talent of its two leads.