Let’s be honest. Some of our comedy films recently have been really trashy. I won’t mention any titles; you know what they are – lazy jokes, slapstick tricks, and offensive humor.
But once in a while, there comes a really great comedy that has sense. A comedy that has an overall goal and purpose. A comedy that doesn’t just generate laughs but also takes an opportunity to explore poignant themes.
And that, my friends, is Beauty In A Bottle.
It reminds me of the likes of Pinay Pie, Bikini Open, and Liberated – three brilliant films that are both funny and profound at the same time. These are intelligent enough not to forget how powerful the comedy genre is – humor is such an effective tool to send across a vital message.
Vilma (Assunta de Rossi) is an aging advertising director battling for a high-profile account with a younger up-and-comer Tanya (Ellen Adarna). Estelle (Angelica Panganiban) is a rising starlet who’s struggling with her weight. Judith (Angeline Quinto) is a plain girl who’s in a relationship with a wealthy, good-looking guy (Tom Rodriguez). These stories are tied together by the girls’ different levels of involvement to a (real-life) Belo product.
Filled with inside-jokes, self-parodies, surprise appearances, and very game actors, this movie is one hell of a riot from start to finish. But most of that humor actually stems from how true the scenes ring.
There are even references to funny stories we’ve heard in the news or read in forums and blogs. Tackling issues on age, weight, and class, they reflect our own culture’s obsessions with beauty, vanity, and perfection – and how tragic they’ve actually become.
Threatened by fresher girls? Check. Posts and tweets that bash celebrities? Check. Loathing for reachers and cringes for settlers? Check. The whole “byutipul” fiasco of one famous actress? Check! Check! Check!
Pinoys, as much as we don’t want to admit it, are very discriminating as a people. We’re very cruel when it comes to others’ imperfections.
At school, we tease the dark-skinned classmate, the pimple-faced nerd, or the plump asthmatic kid. At work, we gossip behind office mates we are jealous of. We leer at flamboyant gays strutting across the street. We poke fun at people with wrong grammar or thick accents. This movie takes a critical approach to all these and at times even subverts some of the stereotypes or prejudices that we have.
All three leads are effective in their respective roles, not shying away from how, in some ways, their characters replicate their real-life persona. They’re all given tender moments that imbue them with a sense of humanity despite all the insanity.
But Angelica Panganiban stands out for having the most interesting arc and an ending for her character that’s totally amusing!
There’s a slight wrinkle in the movie though: I think it would have benefited more from stronger opening and ending scenes that better connect all three characters together. But with excellent performances, a superbly written script, and a thoughtful message, this is a must-see, hands down. I know it’s Halloween season and you’d want to watch a horror film, but give Beauty In A Bottle a try – you surely won’t regret it.
Stray observations (SPOILER ALERT! READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!)
- You’re right Judith, you don’t need to be beautiful all day, everyday.
- Assunta appearing in this movie is like coming full circle from her other dazzling comedic turns in Pinay Pie and Jologs.
- Ellen Adarna is always a delight to watch. She isn’t given much to do in this film, but she’s an excellent counterpoint to Assunta.
- The use of sex positions and dance moves to pit Tanya against Vilma makes for some compelling clashes!
- There are a lot of dream sequences or hallucinations for each of the three leads. I wished they were a little bit more consistent though.
- I appreciate Vicki Belo also starring in this film and even using one of her products as a framing device. Although the movie’s message is slightly counterproductive for sales, it speaks volumes for her to ride with it and endorse that said message.
- Angelica’s old films and appearances being used to track her weight gain is an inventive touch.
- Empress’ parody of herself is so, so hilarious!
- Are auditioners really that mean? If they are, screw them!
- Judith’s family is offensive to her. No wonder she grew up so insecure of her own looks.
- Judith being judgmental of her boyfriend’s sisters-in-law and then being contradicted is such a great way to show that not all rich girls are mean and that simpletons can be mean girls too.
- Is it possible for the likes of Tom Rodriguez to fall for Plain Janes? Plausible. Given that he’s popular right now, that’s every woman’s fantasy.
Director: Antoinette Jadaone
With: Angelica Panganiban, Angeline Quinto, Assunta De Rossi, Tom Rodriguez, Ellen Adarna