Sledgehammer Satire

'Bekikang: Ang Nanay Kong Beki' still buries itself in the kind of broad comedy that tends to characterize the films of Wenn Deramas.

Bekikang owes an obvious debt to Lino Brocka's Ang Tatay Kong Nanay. In fact, the subtitle for the film is "Ang Nanay Kong Beki," making the connection even clearer. But the movie ends up taking a pretty different tack from the Brocka classic. Though it aims for the same high emotions in the end, it still buries itself in the kind of broad comedy that tends to characterize the films of Wenn Deramas. The story just doesn't work within that framework, the emotions inevitably overpowered by the volume of the comedy.

Beki (Joey Paras) is in love with Fortunato (Tom Rodriguez). Unfortunately, Fortunato is in love with someone else, leaving Beki heartbroken when he suddenly leaves to be with Natalie (Carla Humphries), the girl that he got pregnant. But Fortunato shows up at Beki's doorstep months later with a child in his arms. It turns out that Natalie left him to go to Japan, and he has to go abroad as well. He asks that Beki take care of his child. And despite everything that's happened between them, Beki accepts.

The real trouble starts seven years later, when Beki runs into Fortunato again. He's reunited with Natalie, and when they see their child, they fight to get him back from Beki. This all happens pretty late in the movie. The movie puts off the real meat of its story for an unbearably long time. It instead meanders through a whole lot of cartoonish blather and unearned drama. It alternates between bits that have the characters slapping each other and scenes that bring them all to tears.

The movie is kind of interesting when it gets to the heart of the matter. There's some real emotion to be mined from this inherently dramatic situation, and in a couple of scenes, it actually comes through. But the film is largely too caught up in its own cartoonish nonsense to reach those points. This might have been really affecting if the film had just settled down a bit and let the comedy come organically. But it still leans on old tricks: slapstick, fourth wall-breaking asides, jokes about how ugly people are, and goofy sound cues.

The film's cartoonish sensibilities really hamper it in the last act, when things go fully dramatic. The characters end up feeling too broad to relate to. There are heroes and villains, and none of the nuance that the situation actually calls for. It's kind of a waste of Joey Paras' talents. Paras is talented enough that he doesn't need all those extra tricks to sell the point of any given scene. His punchlines would land just as well without those sound cues, and the emotion would come through even if things weren't pitched at the level of melodrama.

There’s an intriguing personal dimension to Bekikang. The film does end up making a statement advocating for the legitimacy of non-traditional families. But this statement is obscured by the broadness of everything else in the picture. The broadness makes it all feel like a big straw man argument. There is certainly space in there for some subtlety, and maybe just a dash of cold reality. Comedy can be a fine way to discuss difficult issues in our society, but it needs to be done with deft touch. This is satire at the end of a sledgehammer.

My Rating:


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