As a pure joke-delivery system, Who’s That Girl? isn’t that bad. It takes its mistaken-identity premise and really runs with it, going to surprisingly dark places to mine some humor. Looking at it as a whole, however, reveals some problems. The story is structurally flawed, turning a lot of its comedic potential into pure tedium. Enthusiastic performances make up for some of the slack, but it isn’t quite enough.
As a nerdy young architecture student, Elizabeth Pedroza (Anne Curtis) was completely obsessed with campus heartthrob John Eduque (Luis Manzano). Years later, she’s devastated to find an obituary for John Eduque in the newspaper. She shows up at the wake and makes a scene before realizing that the John Eduque who died was her longtime crush’s father. She flees the scene, leaving everyone at the wake to think that the deceased had a mistress. Feeling jilted, the departed’s wife Belinda (Eugene Domingo) sets out to discover the identity of the supposed mistress. John Eduque sets out to do the same, promising to exact some revenge. But he ends up developing feelings for Elizabeth as well.
The story is basically about a bunch of people overreacting to incomplete information. It’s actually pretty clever at times, the film jumping from one crazy overreaction to the next, often playing things out like a ridiculous soap opera. It pokes fun at the conventions, delivering real fun as the characters fall deeper into the melodrama of their own lives. Not all of it works, though. The central romance is pretty tepid, slowing the film down every time it’s given focus. It doesn’t quite feel right that the two should fall for each other, the film relegating the development of their relationship to a cheap montage.
There’s also a problem with pacing. There’s a point in the film where it feels like they could have wrapped everything up. That moment comes thirty minutes before the actual end of the film. Almost everything past that point feels pretty redundant, even though some of it is actually kind of funny. Much of it could have happened before that big moment, and it probaprobably would have worked. In general, the film has a penchant for wasting time. DJ Durano’s character, for example, adds nothing to the film. One of his scenes appears to have been shot simply for the sake of some extra product placement.
Both Anne Curtis and Luis Manzano can be very funny. Curtis gets points for her enthusiasm, and Manzano appears to have become accustomed to playing with his goofy side. What they lack is chemistry, and with their romance being so badly written, chemistry is what they really needed. I don’t think I have to say much more about Eugene Domingo. She is simply one of the funniest actresses working in this country today. Here she’s let completely loose, and even though the role is incredibly broad, she still hits on a couple of true moments.
Who’s That Girl? feels pretty long, even though it isn’t. This is pretty much the consequence of faulty structuring, the film simply going past a logical end of the action. And so, despite a few merits past the narrative climax, it all still feels interminable. It’s too bad, because a lot of the film is kind of clever, fully exploring the absurdities of its soapy premise. The blatant product placements knock another point off this film. Who’s That Girl? could have been a great movie, but in its current form, it’s a pretty murky proposition.