Friday, July 18, 2014

Movie Reaction: She's Dating the Gangster

I never saw myself watching this in the big screen, as in ever

When I first saw the trailer, it seemed decent, but not enough to spend cash over. The "KathNiel" love team does affect me as much as the next girl (as long as that girl isn't a hardcore Daniel Padilla addict), but really, it's a matter of being selective with the ones you watch. I mean, with Philippine love teams being as predictable as they are, KathNiel is bound to stick together for a few more films or shows. (Philippine TV does not cope well with displeasing the public.)

Still, when power outage happened and boredom struck, I saw myself getting ready to go out and watch this movie. 

I also watched the recent KathNiel interview from The Buzz and they were talking about the movie with pride, and so at that moment I thought to myself, it might not be that bad.


It all started when 17-year-old Athena Dizon unwittingly plays a trick on resident heartthrob and bad boy, Kenji de los Reyes. All of a sudden, she finds herself pretending - unwillingly at that - to be his girlfriend to make his ex jealous. Now, not only does she have to deal with dirty looks from the girls in school who want Kenji for themselves, but her supposed boyfriends is getting on her nerves. He's hotheaded, never seems to agree with her on anything - and everything about him screams gangster. Has Athena gotten herself into more trouble than she can handle? Or has she actually found herself a boy she can call hers - gangster be damned?


One of the recent issues that came up regarding this movie, was how silly Kenji's look was. People from the internet, dads from the 90's and just about everyone who could see, called the movie out on styling Daniel Padilla like he was going to attend a Halloween party as a horribly exaggerated version of a wannabe thug. (Note: May not be exact words.)

Watching the movie though, it was clear that this wasn't the case. Instead of representing the whole stereotype of the 90's gangsters, the kids in the movie dressed for a certain... inside-joke. They weren't really going for the all-out bully look nor for being ridiculously un-stylish. All the people in that movie looked off anyways. They actually didn't stick out that much. They were a barkada, and tween barkada rules state that you had to dress with a theme. Yep, I'm talking to you Filipina girls. Remember when everyone had the same hairband, or the same bracelets, or even the same freakin' hairstyles? It was just a thing they did, and it was never meant to mean more than that. Basically, they were the less sophisticated version of Blair Waldorf and her minions back in high school - with truer friendship.

And really, Athena's referring to Kenji as "gangster" is more of an endearment than an actual mentioning of a fact.

When they advertised SDTG as a family movie, I was puzzled. How could this obvious teen rom-com be for everybody? I thought. But it's true. It is a family movie. I'm not going to divulge more information than that, because this being titled a Movie Reaction, I wouldn't want it to sound like a formal review.

The movie was pleasantly surprising. Let me put it this way, after you read a book and then review the synopsis at the back, you end up wondering what the hell this synopsis-writing person was talking about. It sounded like they haven't even read the book. The same way, the SDTG trailer and synopsis can be terribly misleading. The movie was definitely much more than it led us to believe, at the same time, it's not really as heavily written as my current Filipino movie favorite, Starting Over Again. It also wasn't as memorable. When you walk out of that cinema, you carry with you a feeling of a satisfied audience - the kilig factor definitely didn't hurt either - but you don't really end up researching the film's writer or director.

The actors of the movie had good acting skills, and actually, given more scenes and lines, they could've been great. The one disappointment I had with the movie, was the poor allocation of the script. At first I noticed that there were many guest stars (most of whom were men) and they had me laughing at their comedic scenes. But then, I ended up noticing that only a handful of actors had actual lines - not even the whole barkada were able to speak up significant lines (and by significant I just mean a line spoken not as background noise). In Athena's family, the dad's role shone through, but the rest of the members were just... moving statues. There was even this one scene where the dad ended up having an emotional moment and the mom was just crying and moving and then hugging. At which point I went "Huh?" That was the most awkward scene in the whole freakin' movie. If not for Athena's friend getting to have a say in her actions, I would've gone as far as saying that this whole movie seemed anti-female (except for Kathryn, of course). 

In a sense, I thought maybe it was alright because the main story was formatted as a flashback, so of course everyone else faded in the background in comparison to Kenji and Athena's love story. But no, I realized that these people who were supposed to be movie-making experts, ought to know better. So no excuses for them.

The ending... Well, you have to see for yourself. All I can say is that it was good. It was a light movie with an emotional twist that actually got me teary-eyed (because I could not admit to myself that this movie was actually making me cry). The ending was realistic and unrealistic at the same time - but it was an ending that I could root for. God knows that Philippine movies tend to go into either extreme drama or thoughtless comedy enough for moviegoers to end up sick of them. SDTG was a good mix of both. With the right audience, this movie will do well in sales.

As a rule, I never read the book version after seeing a movie. Either I've read the book and watched the movie, or watched the movie and respect the book enough not to instill the movie's visuals in it as I read. But with this one, I might just be curious enough to try.

Movie Rating: 

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