THE STELLAR pairing of Judy Ann Santos and Sarah Geronimo in Wenn Deramas’ family comedy, “Hating Kapatid,” has aroused special interest, because it could have seen the “passing of the torch” from one movie queen (Judy Ann) to another (Sarah).
Alas, it didn’t happen. The promising production turned out to be hobbled by a number of problems and limitations that ended up making it a failed cinematic enterprise.
That was a real pity, because the movie’s theme, sibling relationships, is of particular interest to Filipino viewers, who often grow up in homes where the oldest child assumes “third parent” responsibilities in helping to rear and even financially support his or her younger siblings.
True enough, the film’s plot had older sister, Judy Ann, taking care of Sarah when their parents opted to work abroad to make money for their family. The girls’ grandmother (Gina Pareño) watched over them, but Judy Ann assumed most of the “maternal” responsibilities in taking care of her little sibling.
So far, so acceptable. But, all too soon, the movie’s progress was muddled by the production’s distractingly frenetic attempts to generate extra “comedy” by ramping up its slapstick and kenkoy elements.
Otherwise a proficient and focused performer, Judy Ann was made to rattle off her lines in a giddy way, like a younger clone of Nida Blanca or Maricel Soriano.
Sarah was less of a caution in this regard, but she also had to contend with a number of slapstick moments and scenes that tweaked and distended her performance in an unnaturally hyper way, ostensibly to elicit extra loud whoops of laughter.
Trouble was, the attempts were so self-consciously broad and heavy that viewers’ real desire to laugh was dampened instead of encouraged.
An even bigger turn-off was the movie’s long list of “product placements” to generate extra income from advertisers. All sorts of products were shown being used by the stars on-camera, thus distracting viewers in a major way from the storytelling at hand.
These days, viewers already have to pay a lot for a movie ticket, so to have to endure “product placements” on top of that to add to a production’s income, in cash or kind, is too onerous an extra burden for moviegoers to bear!
What about the “passing of the torch” factor? It too was derailed, because neither Judy Ann nor Sarah survived the production’s limitations well enough to make such a symbolic act or gesture possible—or plausible.
We know that Judy Ann has come up with a number of worthy portrayals in the course of her long career, so she has nothing to prove. The big test was for Sarah to strut her thespic stuff—and she simply failed to deliver.
Sarah is a good singer and “obedient” performer who dutifully does what she’s told—and that’s her problem. Real star performers do more than comply with the director’s instructions, they make their performances their own by imbuing them with personality, sensitivity, charisma and insight.
These are what Sarah fails to provide, and what she should focus on in acquiring, if she wants to become an affecting performer and genuine screen luminary.
All else is dutifully going through the motions—and you don’t get awards for that.