This Guy’s In Love With U, Mare is really quite sneaky. This third collaboration between director Wenn Deramas and comedian Vice Ganda doesn’t seem like it would be any different from the previous movies. And for a while, that might seem like the case. But there’s something else going on as well. Behind the easy laughs, the movie has built a narrative that eases the audience into accepting a more open understanding of modern relationships. Some of the elements of the formula are still kind of annoying, but I think this film might be worthy of serious consideration.
For the last few years, Lester (Vice Ganda) has been in a relationship with Mike (Luis Manzano). Throughout that relationship, Lester was putting Mike through college, and so it comes as a bit of a surprise when Mike breaks up with him. Soon enough, Lester learns that Mike is actually seeing a girl, Gemma (Toni Gonzaga), and that they’re engaged. Feeling betrayed and heartbroken, Lester devises a plan to get revenge on Mike. Lester pretends to be straight and sets out to court Gemma’s affections. Remarkably, this works, and Lester manages to drive a spike between the young lovers.
The sexual politics of the film are really intriguing, and surprisingly progressive for a mainstream release. The film depicts relationships that go far beyond the hetero-normative ideals usually portrayed in mainstream cinema. The movie has plenty of fun with gender roles, confounding larger ideas about what it means to be straight or gay in a modern society. It ends up making a case for a more fluid form of sexuality, one that isn’t limited by prejudices towards femininity or masculinity. It basically asks people to be honest with each other and accept whatever experiences they’ve accumulated.
It’s kind of a stunning statement to make from a mainstream comedy, and the movie ought to be lauded for that. There’s more to the movie, however, and much of it is a lot less pleasing. The comedy still feels stale. Laughs are mostly generated through sped up footage, making fun of people for being ugly and word-for-word recitations of dramatic scenes from other movies. Some of the gags are stretched out for far too long, and that extends the film’s runtime. And the character of Mike could have used some fleshing out as well. But to the filmmaker’s credit, it feels like there’s a lot more energy poured into these scenes, giving the film a sense of momentum.
The film benefits from actors that just aren’t afraid to look silly. They really commit to their various conceits, and make it all feel affable. Vice Ganda’s mostly lets go of the crutch of rapid fire putdowns and succeeds thoroughly with a more relaxed sense of comedic timing. There’s much more of a character in this role, and Vice Ganda pulls it off pretty well. Toni Gonzaga and Luis Manzano give plenty of strange, bubbleheaded energy to their roles. The supporting cast is a bit overpopulated, but it doesn’t really hurt the movie.
I have to admit I’m a little astounded by This Guy’s In Love with U, Mare. The premise is a little hacky, and the comedy gets old really fast. But there’s something more lurking behind the slapstick and the dialogue from other movies. There’s a subversive streak to it, offering audiences portrayals of non-traditional relationships that aren’t really any different from the ones usually offered to them in cinemas. It’s unusually progressive in a national genre that has stuck to formula and repetition for the last decade. I still have reservations about some of the craft of the picture, but the film might be worth seeing for its boldness alone.