Thursday, January 10, 2013

Review: Sosy Problems (2012)

I decided I wanted to see this movie because I didn't want to see those with more serious plots during the holiday season. Sosy Problems is the second 2012 MMFF entry I watched. The first being Sisterakas.

I have barely taken my seat when I started cringing... 

The movie begins by defining the different social classes. People were grouped into: (1) poor, those who can't buy their own food and aren't working; (2) working class, people who receive minimum wages and travel via public transportation; (3) lower middle class, those who have jobs, can eat three times a day but have to skip snacks, and can only afford second-hand cars at best; (4) middle class, people whose houses are in subdivisions and villages but NOT the gated ones with security guards, who buy the cheapest brand new cars, and can afford five meals a day; (5) upper middle class, they live in gated communities, have SUVs, and can afford as much food as they want. 

But wait! There's one more!

(6) The super duper upper class. And based on how the main characters were introduced, they travel locally by helicopter or are driven around in luxury cars. Their parents can afford to provide their yayas Toyota sedans. Oh, these characters wear the most uncomfortable shoes too.

The introduction lent to a promising start. I fully expected to see a story about how the working class (represented by the two journalists assigned to create a documentary -- played by Tim Yap and Mikey Bustos) would treat the super duper rich's sosy problems. The boss, played by Ruffa Gutierrez, picked out four ultra-rich nobodies. These supposed "it" girls were portrayed by Heart Evangelista, Solenn Heussaff, Rhian Ramos, and Bianca King. These characters were so rich they didn't seem to need to work for the money they use to feed their expensive tastes. Which begs the question: Why are they "it" girls? Their only claim to fame, as far as I could tell, was their affiliations to their famous (or extremely successful) parents. To paraphrase the words of Cherie Gil's iconic Lavinia (in Bituing Walang Ningning), these characters were nothing but four second-rate, trying hard, third-world-country Valley Girl copycats... who were really super duper rich.

The absurdity of the situation these girls were put in certainly reeled in the laughs. They waged war against an agent of change -- a character portrayed convincingly by Mylene Dizon -- who rose from the masses into the super duper upper class via marriage. They also were also fish out of water on several occasions. These elements would have made for a good parody, I think... and a good documentary within the movie, for sure.

Unfortunately, however, as soon as Ruffa Gutierrez's character introduced the challenge to the two journalists, the story within a story frame collapsed. For one, the reporters were decidedly not with the "it" girls when they were covered in mud; they were not with the girls when the girls' more realistic issues reared their ugly heads; they were effectively pulled out by the boss just as the story was taking shape. For another, whoever concocted the movie's plot decided that each girl should have a background story, something to ground them in a way. Perhaps, these subplots were added to illustrate that these "it" girls could relate to us, poorer creatures. But since these side-stories felt like afterthoughts rather than integral parts of the parody, they didn't fly as well as the conflict with Dizon's antagonist.

And so I learned one thing when I watched Sosy Problems: the design principle advanced by aircraft engineer Kelly Johnson also rings true to movies. K-I-S-S.