Worthy of its Talent

I came out of the theater thinking that 'Here Comes the Bride' is one of the best comedies I've seen all year.

It’s actually hard to imagine that a movie featuring such amazing comedic talents as Eugene Domingo, Jaime Fabregas, Jon Lapus and Tuesday Vargas could ever turn out bad. Yet experience tells us that even the most sublime comedic actors will often end up slumming it in the lowbrow laziness that permeate mainstream comedies. And so, it is quite the relief that Here Comes the Bride is actually pretty good. For once, the talent is backed up with actual vision, a willingness to go further than pointless parodies and endless faceplants. It is a comedy that is worthy of its talent.

Shy, virginal Stephanie (Angelica Panganiban) is about to have the beach wedding of her dreams. But en route to the resort, she and several of her guests get into a car accident while the Magnetic Hill during a solar eclipse. This confluence of strange circumstances causes them to swap souls. Stephanie ends up in the body of her old maid godmother (Eugene Domingo). The godmother jumps into the long-suffering nanny (Tuesday Vargas) of the incredibly spoiled ring bearer. The nanny wakes up as the elderly patriarch (Jaime Fabregas) of the family. The patriarch finds himself in the body of the wedding’s flamboyantly gay beautician Toffee (John Lapus). And Toffee finds all of his dreams coming true, as he inhabits the body of Stephanie.

The pacing’s a little off, several scenes taking too long to get to the point. But this an otherwise charming film. The characters are drawn broadly to begin with, but they all feature recognizable human traits that make them endearing anyway. These qualities become more pronounced as they spend time inhabiting their borrowed bodies. Clever reversals power the humor, the movie more than happy to subvert expectations when it can. They get a lot of mileage out of separating the most conventionally attractive couples, and giving time to more cinematically unusual pairings. There’s real strength in portraying a child as something other than precocious, and the film gains memorable moments in serving up comeuppance to the said child and his parents.

The film still goes for plenty of easy laughs, but it’s smart enough not to linger on them. The movie plays them lightly, focusing instead on building a few recurring jokes. And somehow, through it all, a strong emotional core remains. For all the goofiness and body-swapping hijinks the movie employs, there’s real pathos to these characters, most of whom are wishing for lives other than their own. The real hook to this movie is that the characters manage to grown comfortable in their foreign skin, and there’s a real case to be made for letting them stay that way. It’s a strange and surprising conceit, and I wish the movie could’ve taken it even further.

There are a few niggling production issues, but they mostly get the job done. They’re easy enough to gloss over, thanks to the stellar cast. The five main actors are made to imitate one other, and they do a fine job of it. But the real key to their performances is the quiet truth they bring to them. Sure, it’s easy to praise Tuesday Vargas for her amazing Eugene Domingo act, but she deserves more praise for the smaller moments, where she drops the bluster and gets to the core of the character. The sheer talent in the film is overwhelming, with Eugene Domingo, Jon Lapus and the great Jaime Fabregas all providing fantastic, truthful moments. And then there’s Angelica Panganiban, who is quickly becoming one of my favorite young actresses. She seems to fully inhabit her characters, grounding the film even as it tears into broader territory.

I came out of the theater thinking that Here Comes the Bride is one of the best comedies I’ve seen all year. It might be a little too long, and a little oddly paced. There might’ve been more to say about the characters wanting to stay in their new bodies. But when it comes right down to it, the film is funny and charming, and a lot brighter than most comedies we get these days. It would’ve been enough that the film gives talented actors something to do other than mug for the camera and fall over repeatedly. But the film also manages a measure of dramatic resonance among all the hijinks. That’s something really worth seeing.

My Rating:

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