The reason why I found ‘That Thing Called Tadhana’ so endearing was that it didn’t succumb to the usual make-up of a Filipino romantic comedy. ‘You’re My Boss’ is said “usual make-up”. It’s the reason why I don’t normally watch Filipino movies – they’re trope-y, gratuitous, commercialized and just plain lazy. But that said, I’ll won’t be bashing it too much as I did still end up enjoying parts of it.
You’re My Boss is about Georgina (Toni Gonzaga), a tough, irritable, no-nonsense, marketing executive who’s having the worst time ever. Her beau left her and she was recently involved in a scandal that went viral. So her usual unpleasant self, is now even more unbearable!
Enter kind and mild-mannered Pong (Coco Martin), the assistant who can pretty much bear any form of abuse. On her pursuit to land the biggest deal of her life, Pong aids Georgina any way he can – including pretending to be the company’s boss!
Tough, irritable boss lady, a kind, mild-mannered assistant, a plot that involves public deception, and an eventual trip to the guy’s home town where evil boss lady gets to know him…where have I heard all this…OH YES! SANDRA BULLOCK AND RYAN REYNOLD’S ‘THE PROPOSAL’.
It’s hard not to compare. They’re so blatantly similar. The only difference is that I thought the characters were better written and the actors were better suited for their roles in the American film.
Georgina, who the majority of the movie revolves around, is made to look WAY too horrible. I understand the character type they were aiming for, but I thought they went a little too far with it. She was so pompous and implausibly mean to Pong. In a number of times, I was there going “WHO DOES THAT??” And even when she’s on the losing side, she’s still so irritatingly bitchy!
She was too appalling a character, so much so that even at times when her humanity and vulnerability is presented, I couldn’t care less. I didn’t feel pity, I felt like it served her right. What’s worse is that I thought the better parts of the movie were when she was being told off by Pong. Her unpleasantness went past the point of redemption.
Nothing against Toni though. She can be likeable if she wanted to. It’s just that the character that was written for her didn’t do her any favors.
At least Coco Martin fared a bit better. A bit. His tiresome/cheesy ‘pacute’ shtick and that lisp he has notwithstanding, at least his character didn’t have any glaring personality defects, giving us someone to root for in the movie. But the character, really, is so generic. They didn’t even bother giving him that much backstory. I mean, think about it? When do we really get to know Pong except for that ONE, long monologue he did mid-film?
The constant bombardment of “evil Georgina” and “rural Pong”, only served to widen the gap between the two main characters. She was an unkind, snobbish, driven, rich girl, while he was a slow, simple, underachieving, albeit honest, probinsyano. It was impossible to believe that a romantic relationship could happen between them. And the abruptness/crudeness of its delivery made it even harder to subscribe to.
And yet, obviously, they still end up together. They’re inorganically put into cliché romantic situations and its culmination ends up feeling forced, unearned and underwhelming, not to mention, painful at times. (There’s this long English monologue Toni does in the end that was awkward as heck. It was meant to touch, but instead, I just cringed. )
The movie’s predictable nature goes beyond just the story line. It felt like my mind was always 5 steps ahead, especially around the last act. It might be because it had almost the same exact structure as in The Proposal.
This is what I’m talking about, the formula. The romantic tropes, the cutesy acting, the unoriginal plots, and the eventual unearned payoff, it’s sad, but this is what works; it’s what people find romantic; it’s the Cinderella story that people always buy and it’s what’s rampant in Philippine cinema. And the fact that both ‘Tadhana’ and ‘Boss’ came from the same director, made it all the more disappointing. Nothing against Director Jadaone though, I guess it’s an industry-driven dilemma.
Even more ridiculous than the love story is the idea of a sluggish, fidgety, practically mute, Pong, fooling everyone that he’s the boss. The Japanese business man they meet with keeps going on and on about what a good business man should be. Well a good business man should at least be able to tell if a guy isn’t the boss!
Speaking of that Japanese businessman, he was crazy over the top, wasn’t he? It was okay at first, but on his last scene, man, he really went full on campy! It kind of took me out of the moment. It was supposed to be a sad scene; instead I was dying inside because of how silly it looked. And why did they have to put subtitles even when the Japanese were speaking in English? And why the beer house scene? Pervy much? I can’t imagine the racial stereotyping not offending some of its audience.
But like I said, I still enjoyed parts of the movie. For one, I had genuine laughs courtesy of the supporting characters like the kambingan waiter and Pong’s cousin. Wakanambitch! And again, Director Jadaone cleverly works in meta humor, particularly the ones about Toni Gonzaga. Those are always pretty cool and entertaining.
Another thing Director Jadaone’s does masterfully are her scenic shoots. In Tadhana it was Baguio and Sagada, In You’re My Boss, it’s Batanes. Not that I don’t think the Philippines is innately attractive, but she has a refined way of showing off its best parts. Batanes was AMAZING. Last time I wanted to go to Sagada, and now I want to go to Batanes. Jadaone could practically make me want to go ANYWHERE!
The humor, the scenery, and looking at Toni – those are the three things I appreciated while watching You’re My Boss. It was JUST enough for me not to completely crucify this film despite its many formulaic flaws. But I think it’s a wait-for-it-to-come-out-on-TV kind of movie. Just save that money you were planning to use for the big screen. You’re My Boss is funny and pretty, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s just another typical Filipino romantic comedy; the Cinderella story people never get tired of. Here’s hoping the landscape changes drastically soon.
*Trailer and screenshot courtesy of YouTube.