As meet-cutes go, ‘To Love Some Buddy’ has one of best and more refreshing ones I’ve seen in a long time. Funnily enough, the meet-cute of Faith (Maja Salvador) and Julius (Zanjoe Marudo) at the very beginning of the film does not bring the two together as a couple but as best friends. I don’t want to spoil the brilliance of this meet-cute but it’s so left-of-center and so modern and surprising that it immediately sets the tone for the rest of the film.
Jason Paul Laxamana’s ‘To Love Some Buddy’ is just that: refreshing, modern, and surprising. It is excellently structured, detailing wonderfully this accidental friendship and how it turns into something more, which changes the whole dynamic of this seemingly perfect duo.
The main selling point of the film is the pitch perfect performances of Salvador and Marudo and the comfort and ease they have with each other. Their chemistry gets us involved as Laxamana carefully details the quality of their friendship and forces that serve to change them when they become a couple.
What I really love about the contemporary Filipino romantic films — be it a comedy or a drama — is how they are now all about growing up, facing the cold hard truth about ourselves and each other, and that love is not some easy answer to happiness. It is something that needs to be worked on.
While I find that ‘ To Love Some Buddy’ suffers in juggling its tonal shifts, from campy to serious drama, it works best when it's subtle. Its best moments are when it doesn’t underline its lessons about growing up and growing up as a couple. When it’s just Marudo and Salvador, it can cross over to camp and outrageous and it works because they make it work. But when other people are brought in — like Faith’s family or their friends — the dynamics change and the punches don’t hit their mark. I’m also uncomfortable with the unnecessary use of narration since the story is so well-structured that we don’t need it to understand what’s going on and sometimes, the dialogue seems a little on-the-nose.
Nevertheless, ‘To Love Some Buddy’ is a whole lot of fun and is not afraid to enjoy itself in this, what is essentially, a coming-of-age story for this couple who has to learn that friendships, just like love, will change over time and it’s how you navigate through that complicated mess that will determine your fate.
Laxamana puts his characters through the ringer and I’m happy for it. It’s an important lesson to explore but he’s not afraid to have fun while doing it, and he’s got amazing actors like Salvador and Marudo to bring it home.