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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Review: My Househusband: Ikaw Na!

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I was hoping to catch Asiong Salonga at SM Bicutan, but the darned mall didn't show it, so I had to settle for the next-best, Jose Javier Reyes' My Househusband: Ikaw Na!, a movie I just had to see just because I recently wrote post on the subject.


Philippine cinema's anti-Lino Brocka (i.e., a much-needed chronicler of the (almost nonexistent) Philippine middle class) serves up an expectedly funny and by turns touching depiction of a much-ignored social phenomenon: house-bound husbands who get marooned at home with the kids and housework due to joblessness, forcing their wives to hunt for the missing job.

The gender role reversal plot is quite thin, but is made more engaging by a cast of village characters that try to steal the attention away from the househusband and his distraught wife: the neighboring overfriendly lady with a checkered past and even more checkered present, the gossipy ladies of leisure, office drinking buddies, irately alarmed in-laws, and a maid from Aklan who lies through her teeth to get a long vacation and an advance.

The film succeeds as a study on the emasculation of the Pinoy macho, how he grapples painfully with hurt male pride and how his wife and children adjust to it. It is not film festival-strength material, though, just a regular Javier Reyes rom-com that doubles as social satire.

The dialogue captures the tenor of the times, with today's top ten words and phrases ("Wala lang," for example. "Weh" is entirely missing, though). It also hits the right pitches of alternating bathos and pathos, although Eugene Domingo's loud-mouthed performance can get too over-the-top.

The film even manages to come up with a few memorable scenes, as when Rod, the househusband played believably by Ryan Agoncillo, throws away his brown folder of curriculum vitae in the concrete jungle's monobloc trash bin out of exasperation. (Real-life wife's Judy Ann Santos' turn shows total control and respectable restraint, although she could have had rightly exploded when she mistakenly learns about her husband's alleged fooling around.)

But Househusband is neither a waste of time -- far from it -- in that it rewards with an unexpected insight at the end in quite an artful way, even though all of the preceding scenes are too direct, the solicitation for the right emotions quite manipulative.

Househusband is really an honorific for both the emasculated man of the house and the ego torture he goes through as well as the long-suffering, yet economically ignored (by economists, that is) housewife. Its apparent advocacy for gender equality at home, however, is slightly harmed by its concomitant pitch for gender role 'equality' (more like uniformity) as well, toward the end -- a liberalist touch.

Househusband is a worthy addition to the lineup of earlier Judy Ann-Ryan starrers by Joey Reyes, because it is a whole new material, not a rehash of a tired rehash.

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