Supahpapalicious is sometimes a tremendously funny family film. Sometimes, it just comes out of nowhere with a well-built gag that will have you giggling, no matter how much of a snob you are. But despite that, most of the film remains rather staid and unimpressive. Supahpapalicious has moments of greatness sandwiched between moments of blandness.
Adonis falls in love with Athena, a single mother with a precocious son, Atong. Adonis learns that the way to Athena’s heart is through her son, who insists that his mother must only date men with large families. Adonis, an orphan, is then forced to pretend to be his own relatives in order to win over Atong and his mother. But as he gets closer to their family, the more he realizes that lying to Athena isn’t the way to go, and all things must eventually be revealed.
The first twenty or so minutes of the film are almost unwatchable. It’s a chaotic mess of overplayed “humor” that gets lost in the film’s overbearing musical score. But the film picks up from there, getting better slowly but surely through its runtime. The story is coherent enough to work, even if the plot elements aren’t exactly all that tight. The film is pretty funny, all in all. The film employs an oddball sensibility that can really surprise you. There’s a sort of deadpan approach to absurd comedy that’s reminiscent of the Stephen Chow approach to comedy, and when it works, it’ll get you laughing. There are sequences in the middle of this film that are actually kind of brilliant in their own twisted little ways.
Unfortunately, not everything works. There are a few standout scenes, but a lot of the film falls flat on its face. This film could be about ten minutes shorter. The direction is kind of baffling at times, honestly. There are a few jarring segues in the film that can take you out of the picture. And somewhere in the middle of the film, they employ an editing technique that hasn’t really been in vogue since the eighties. The score gets pretty annoying within the first five minutes of the film, but it hardly ever lets up through the entire runtime.
The cast works out pretty well, however. Vhong Navarro might shape up to be our very own version of Stephen, except less fight-y and more dance-y. He isn’t quite there yet, but he’s got that same comedic vibe, the ability to keep a straight face and make you laugh anyway. His performance in-costume as different characters isn’t really revolutionary, but one has to admire the commitment. Valerie Conception gives a lot of energy, and bounces pretty well off Navarro. Makisig Morales is a fine young actor, and if he tones it down a little bit, he could end up becoming someone to really watch one of these days. The supporting cast is pretty funny, but they don’t get much screen time.
Supahpapalicious isn’t a great film, but it does hold the ability to surprise you at times. While still very much a studio kind of film, it sticks its neck out a bit further than your typical Filipino family comedy film. It still doesn’t make for a very good film, however. There are just too many things wrong with the timing of the scenes and the direction and the editing, and there’s just no way this gets an easy recommendation.