A Spoiler-Free “A Second Chance” Review

A SECOND CHANCE REVIEW

I was 18 when I watched One More Chance for the first time. Back then, I wasn’t too familiar with John Lloyd and Bea’s work. I only knew them as an in-demand love team who already had some serious teleserye experience.  What drew me to the movie was how hard-hitting its trailer was. Who wouldn’t be moved by a crying John Lloyd and a crying Bea throwing down the realest lines about love? Thankfully, I wasn’t the only one who felt that way. One day, my blockmates and I decided to watch it after discussing our impressions of the trailer and that more and more people were recommending the movie. So after a psychology class on a Tuesday (or Thursday?) afternoon we drove to Eastwood to catch the 4-ish showing of the movie.

It wasn’t as dramatic as the trailer would have liked us to believe. Sure it had heavy moments, but it was balanced out by some form of humor (i.e. a jeep blaring Jeremiah’s Nanghihinayang, or Janus Del Prado committing suicide via overdose of shampoo). The sawi lines were just as poignant as the first time I’ve heard them in the trailer. It was also my first time to experience John Lloyd’s acting. It was natural, effortless but deeply affecting. I left the theater having this mix of emotional fatigue and excitement that I’ve never felt before in a Filipino movie. One More Chance not only converted me into a John Lloyd fan, but also a believer in Filipino cinema. It made me hopeful that Filipino cinema was more than the Enteng Kabisotes and Tanging Inas in MMFFs.

(My track record of Filipino films watched in a theater wasn’t stellar at that time. Aside from the MMFF films, the other two Filipino movies were Jolina-Marvin’s Hey Babe! and Dolphy’s Tatay Nick)

Jump to eight years after, at 26, I’d like to think I’m smarter but also almost a hundred pounds heavier. I chose to leave my market research job of five years to blog and podcast about Filipino pop culture because I wanted to do something I’m passionate about. So here I am writing my thoughts on One More Chance‘s sequel.

I was skeptical when Star Cinema first announced that a sequel to One More Chance was in production. Why now? It felt odd that Star Cinema suddenly took interest in creating a sequel to an eight year old film. Since sequels are a big thing in Hollywood, and Star Cinema knew about the film’s cultural impact, I was afraid that the sequel was just a cash grab. So even though I was excited enough to catch the first showing of its first day (by my lonesome), I still expected the worst.

If you’re coming in expecting A Second Chance to be an updated version of the original with bigger one-liners and grander romantic gestures, you’ll be disappointed. Cathy Garcia-Molina and the writers knew they needed to do something different. Something that hasn’t been done successfully in mainstream Filipino cinema, just like what the first film did eight years ago. And I’m happy that they took these risks because it made A Second Chance such an affecting and effective film.

At its core, A Second Chance was developed with the millennial audience of One More Chance in mind. The same teenagers and yuppies who watched the movie eight years ago. They knew that these people have grown up and moved on with their lives. In those eight years, these people could have graduated from school, have gotten a job, have gotten married or even have kids. The audience is much smarter and wiser than they were before. Hence, telling a straightforward rosy love story would’t cut it.  If the second movie wanted to reach the same impact the first movie had with the same audience, it must reflect the audience’s current experiences.

That’s why  I found it smart of them to have the sequel also happen eight years after the original film. Now at their late 20s or early 30s, romantic love was the least of Popoy and Basha’s problems. They’re fights mostly stem from managing finances, career issues and even their Meralco bill. These things aren’t the sexiest of problems but it doubles down on the movie’s realness. It’s a definite way to tell the audience, “Hey, the characters you’ve known and loved also grew along with you and they have the same problems as you.”

Not only were the problems in the movie more complex but the storytelling was also layered; something that a few mainstream Filipino movies have attempted to do. Because of this, the movie may seem flat or straightforward if you only take it at face value. It tries its best to provide you memeable one-liners but felt off in this kind of mature story. The movie works best when you try and notice the finer visual and dialogue details that can add to the audience’s understanding of Popoy and Basha’s marriage (i.e. Basha’s deteriorating phone, Popoy’s insistence to do his calamity-proof project)

Finally, what made ASC such an affecting movie for me was its decision to tackle opportunities and choices. It’s an appropriate theme to tackle especially when you have a millennial audience. How comfortable are we with the choices we make in life? Popoy and Basha took a risk when they got back together. Poy took a risk when he stayed in the Philippines instead of pursuing his career in Europe. They both made a choice when they got married. Both took a risk when they opened their own construction firm. We’re all confident of our life choices during the moments when we make them. But several years down the line, when reality already hits you and you’re life’s not as ideal as how you envisioned it. Or when you see other people who took risks fared better than you. Would you still be comfortable with your decisions?

OTHER THOUGHTS AND NOTES:

  • Apparently Popoy is a nickname and Basha’s a firstname
  • ASC continues JLC’s streak as an awful employer
  • Blatant in-movie product placements: 2 (medicine and crackers)
  • Note the gender dynamics between Popoy and Basha
  • I’m happy that the JLC Hypothesis didn’t happen in this movie. I’d be pretty pissed if it still happened after Basha’s emergence
  • I’m all-in for a Thursday Barkada TV series on their college days in UST. I’d like to see how Krizzy (Dimples Romana) and Kenneth (James Blanco) formed their strong relationship or what made Anj (Bea Saw) such a bitter pragmatist.
    • Bea Saw was on point in being Katherine Heigl! Star Cinema, please develop Anj’s story into a romcom.
  • Bea Alonzo had this “too tired to care” face throughout the movie. It was reminiscent of Shiri Appleby’s FTS face in UnREAL.
  • I’m not happy with the surprise star they chose to play Pedro.

 

 

A Spoiler-Free “A Second Chance” Review

Truly, Madly, Lloydie: The JLC Hypothesis

THE JOHN LLOYD HYPOTHESIS-

In 2014’s That Thing Called Tadhana, a sarcastic JM De Guzman, asked Angelica Panganiban’s character why John Lloyd Cruz’s appeals so much to women. Angelica, while starry-eyed, gave a comprehensive answer:

Si John Lloyd kasi para siyang hindi artista, para siyang normal lang na tao. Parang pwede mo siyang maging kaibigan. Parang pwede ka niyang mahalin ng buong-buo. hindi ka niya lolokohin. Hindi ka niya paiiyakin. Siya ang iiyak para sa ‘yo.

I agree with Angelica’s first statement. We’ve already discussed in our podcast on how his seemingly un-matinee idol looks make him easily relatable and an attainable ideal for males. I also agree that JLC’s always willing to show his love, no matter how creepy or romantic his gestures are. However, she needs to backpedal a bit on the whole “hindi ka niya paiiyakin” thing. Being the current girlfriend of JLC, she must be pertaining to the REAL JLC than REEL JLC. Because quite frankly, REEL JLC turns out to be a douche.

I’ve first noticed it in his iconic role as Popoy in One More Chance. He was controlling and possessive in the relationship but in the end, it was Basha (Bea) who practically begged Popoy to take her back.

Then I noticed the same pattern in his film with Toni Gonzaga- My Amnesia Girl. Apollo (JLC), left Irene (Toni) at the altar without any explanation. They meet again after a few years and it seemed like Apollo is still interested. To guard her heart, Irene faked having amnesia. She stood her ground for quite some time but the film ended with Irene having to take care of an amnesia-stricken JLC.

From those two examples, it seemed like John Lloyd’s characters were so charismatic/persuasive that even if he treated his female leads awfully, he still won their hearts in the end. 

I went back to his other romantic films from 2003’s Now That I Have Found You to 2013’s It Takes A Man And A Woman to check my hunch:

John Lloyd Hypothesis Table

 

Out of all his main romance films, the JLC Charisma Hypothesis came true in eight of JLC’s ten films. You can’t consider eight out of ten as just some coincidence. Eighty percent is a good enough chance for me to bet that he’ll do this again in A Second Chance and he’ll still get Bea in the end.

It’s not unusual in romance films that the pursued, after a grand epiphany, realizes his/her mistake and attempts a last ditch effort to get back together with his/her pursuer; often at some transportation terminal (‘cos you know, moving on and stuff). What made JLC’s situations different was how grave his offences were. Leaving your one and only love AFTER you popped the question because you suddenly weren’t sure? That’s nasty! Being overly possessive and controlling? That’s nasty! Disrupting your girl’s stable life in Malaysia after you left her hanging in the Philippines? that’s nasty! But no matter how awful his actions were, his female lead often surrenders and decides to be with John Lloyd. Is it some kind of magic? Why do audiences find nothing wrong with it? And why do guys, including me, give props to John Lloyd? Is John Lloyd secretly Kilgrave?

To understand how he does it, we need to assess the background of the characters he plays

 

WHY THE FREE PASS? 

Let’s take a look at the characters he played in the films the JLC Charisma Hypothesis held true:

John Lloyd Characters Table

In general, it seems that his characters are often emotionally dependent- their self-worth tied to the approval of other people, usually of his romantic interest or parent. It’s as if he can’t function properly when he’s not pining for someone.

Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at his work performance in these films:

John Lloyd Awful Work Record Table

Two things we can get from this table:

  1. He can’t work properly if he has issues with his love life
  2. He only works well when he works with his love interest

Note: Based on the A Second Chance teaser they released three months ago, it seems like Popoy still sucks at doing his job. In the verge of losing the only client they have. lol

So what’s wrong with being emotionally dependent? Isn’t that romantic? That his life  is a mess without his love? Romantic? definitely. Realistic? not quite. Do you seriously want to be the guy or be with a guy who doesn’t have a definite sense of self? A person with a volatile ego that can explode any moment? A person you can’t breakup with because you’ll feel guilty because you know he’ll be devastated by it.  Then you’ll realize that you’re being kept hostage in a relationship that you’re not happy with anymore.  JLC’s characters are usually a whisker away from being the crazy-ex. No one in their right mind would provoke a Derek Ramsey in peak physique to a fist fight. NO ONE IN THEIR RIGHT MIND WILL KEEP YOU FROM ENJOYING FRIED CHICKEN SKIN.

That’s JLC’s con right there. He’ll shower you with grand gestures and kilig one-liners. He’ll tell you that he’s ready to take things to the next level. But once you decline, he cries and whimpers. And then you’ll eventually agree with his offer because fuck, you’re a good person and it’s uncomfortable for you to make another person feel like crap.  Like a grandmother who stuffs you with so much food, but once you refuse the next serving, acts like she’s hurt and subtly forces you to have another serving.

 

BUT WHY DOES HE STILL GET AWAY WITH IT? WHY DO WE STILL ROOT FOR JLC?

You have the writers to thank for that. They’ve been using a narrative device as old as The Bible. To make JLC’s characters more compelling, they’re often pitted against bigger adversaries. Don’t believe me? Here’s another table to show proof!

John Lloyd Underdog Table

With this in play, the narrative then looks like:

  • JLC likes a girl
  • Girl isn’t interested because she has someone else or just not into JLC
  • JLC then proves his love, adversary surrenders
  • JLC wins and gets the girl’s heart as a reward

That’s why it’s understandable why JLC resonates with male teenagers. JLC in his films portrays a regular guy, a guy not exceptionally good-looking but has the most golden of intentions. Regardless of his odds, he’s still determined to win the girl’s heart. When you’re a male teenager going through all the physical, mental and sexual changes that come with adolescence, that narrative speaks so much to you.

And another, he makes full advantage of the traditional belief of ligaw; that he should be a rewarded by your love because he’s invested so much on you. Ligaw still happens. On The Wings Of Love had a month-long story arc on that with James Reid proving to Nadine’s father that he deserves his approval. Ligaw is well in-good, but do remember what’s more important is to fully know and understand the other person first before going into a relationship.

 

HAPPILY EVER AFTER? JLC’S POST-LIGAW PERFORMANCE

This wouldn’t be a grave of an issue if he lived up to his pitch after the ligaw. But if we take a look at his relationships with the non-lead females, his standing isn’t quite bright:

  • In One More Chance, became a controlling boyfriend to Bea. Practically used Maja to forget Bea. He wasn’t as controlling but he broke it off in the most awful and awkward way possible.
  • In Miss You Like Crazy, instead of working out his growing dissatisfaction with his relationship with Maricar Reyes like an adult, he spontaneously demanded to breakup with her after realizing he’s projecting his Manic Pixie Dream Girl thoughts on Bea Alonzo.
  • In It Takes A Man And A Woman, Isabel Daza willingly let herself be used as a security blanket after JLC’s life crumbled while Sarah was abroad. He then left Isabel Daza  when he realized he still had feelings for Sarah.

What we’re seeing here is that JLC’s good at proposing a deal but not fulfilling the contract. It’s all about the chase. A thrill seeker looking for the next new girl to ‘invest his life in’. Adding insult to injury, Star Cinema, the people responsible for JLC’s characters and movies coined the term NaBasha. Feeling special ka pa rin ba?

Oh and just going back to Angelica’s hindi ka paiiyakin claim, ALL of JLC’s leads cried because of the emotional crisis he put them in.

 

SO WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR US?

Honestly, when I first noticed this, I was just surprised that their was a pattern. A good conversation topic when I’m out with my friends. But after sinking my teeth into all his films and analyzing the data, two things came to mind:

  1. Kids who haven’t have a firsthand experience of love would vicariously learn about it from media. Hence, it’s best practice to always have a critical stance on media. And what I have found out, JLC’s films have a passive perspective of women. Women are challenges he must overcome. They’re hostages to John Lloyd’s characters. That’s why, in my opinion, out of all of the films, The Mistress, had the best ending. Bea’s character didn’t take JLC’s shit sitting down. John Lloyd made Bea feel like she didn’t owe his father anything and should choose to be with him instead. Bea wasn’t frazzled by this forced binary pair question. Instead of choosing JLC or his dad, Bea chose to be independent. She knew being with John Lloyd would just complicate rather than simplify things. Of course JLC, not losing easily, tried a last ditch move of sentimentality and Bea successfully fought it. Considering all the things that happened between Bea and JLC in that movie, the ending felt grounded and logical.
  2. A call for better writing. We’ve had years of films that focus on the thrill of the chase. We’ve had a bajillion of films fantasizing, idealizing and romanticizing love. The focus on the grand gestures and the one-liners but bereft of characterization. Hence, no matter how entertaining the story is, it’s still not grounded enough. Don’t get me wrong, I still admire John Lloyd Cruz as an actor. He has acting chops that hasn’t been replicated by any other matinee idol so far. I just hope he just demands more in the roles that he plays.
Truly, Madly, Lloydie: The JLC Hypothesis

The Streamline Podcast Episode 005: John Lloyd Cruz

JLC Podcast Feature Image

 

The Streamline is back with a special episode on one of Philippine pop culture’s modern icons, John Lloyd Cruz.

Mon, Yoyo and Euge discuss their thoughts on the upcoming One More Chance sequel, JLC’s greatness over other matinee idols, as well as his best loveteam partner.

All music used in this episode was made by Lee Rosevere. Check out his bandcamp page right here.

Don’t forget to subscribe to our podcast: http://feeds.soundcloud.com/users/soundcloud:users:160358586/sounds.rss
Like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/popphiltre
Follow us on Twitter: @PopPhiltre

 

The Streamline Podcast Episode 005: John Lloyd Cruz

A Second Chance Teaser: Bakit Galit na Galit Si Popoy?

Anyare sa 'yo Popoy

The second teaser for the JLC-Bea Alonzo-led drama “A Second Chance” was launched last night. Not much was revealed regarding the plot of the entire movie, but the one minute trailer was able to set up the tension…for the titular second chance (fans would know it’s already the goddamn third chance).

After being treated with a SDE of their wedding video, we got a look at how the newlyweds are adjusting to married life. And it seemed like Popoy’s having difficulty with it. In probably one of the key dramatic scenes of the movie, Popoy has a tantrum and starts throwing kitchenware like a nursery school kid not having a proper nappy time. It’s odd knowing that in the previous movie Popoy was the one who couldn’t move on in the relationship. So we try to figure out the possible reasons why:

1.

Galit si Popoy 1

2.

Galit si Popoy 3

3.

Galit si Popoy 4

4.

Galit si Popoy 2

5.

Galit si Popoy 5

6.

Galit si Popoy 6

7.

Galit si Popoy 7

8.

Galit si Popoy 8

9.

Galit si Popoy 9

10.

Galit si Popoy 11

A Second Chance Teaser: Bakit Galit na Galit Si Popoy?