The first draft of this review read like a fan letter to Cathy Garcia-Molina and John Lloyd Cruz so I decided I better stop and rethink it. You see, I enjoyed Unofficially Yours more than any heterosexual male probably should. While the movie does boast of sex scenes, it’s still rated R-13 (can someone please tell me who came up with that rating and why?). Pervs who were thinking there’d be nudity (raises hand) are going to be shit out of luck.
Unless they’re looking forward to John Lloyd frolicking.
Anyway, though I enjoyed the movie as a romantic comedy fan, on the whole, I left the theater still bothered by the way the story was built. There were things that really bothered me about the plot and the themes of the movie.
In Unofficially Yours, John Lloyd Cruz plays Mackie, a dentist turned wannabe journalist, who on a vacation on some undefined beach, meets a girl at a bar and has a one night stand. When he gets back to Manila and arrives for his first day at the Manila Bulletin, he discovers that the girl he met is one of its top writers. Ces (Angel Locsin) isn’t looking for anything serious so Mackie agrees to keep it casual until the inevitable crunch comes and he professes his love blah blah blah.
It’s basically your standard romantic comedy set-up, following a similar formula that director Molina has followed for years now. I’ve seen A Very Special Love (2008), You Changed My Life (2009), Miss You Like Crazy (2010), and My Amnesia Girl (2010) and she seems to have a grasp on the need to keep her movies on the light side. With the exception of Miss You Like Crazy, which I felt was weaker than the rest because it strayed too far into drama; I enjoyed watching the above films.
Part of her success is due in part to her reliance on John Lloyd Cruz as her male lead. This is the eighth time she’s worked with him on a movie and they seem to have their shtick down pat. Despite his dough boy body (or maybe because of it), Cruz’ doofiness seems to sell the idea that a regular joe can score a woman like Angel Locsin.
If the lead isn’t doofy enough, audiences won’t buy it. Hugh Grant is doofy. John Cusack is doofy. Jason Segal is doofy. George Clooney can be doofy under the right circumstances (see Intolerable Cruelty). That’s why these guys are mainstays in Hollywood for the genre. Their doofiness is what makes them sympathetic characters and allows you to suspend your disbelief for a couple of hours. Because, let’s face it, we know Angel Locsin isn’t going to fall for our witty, drunken banter and sleep with us, but we want to believe she could. And if the lead is Derek Ramsey, that fantasy just doesn’t work.
That’s why even though I think that the movie Friends with Benefits (which according to buzz online is what Star Cinema ripped off when they green-lit Unofficially Yours) is more successful at portraying the theme of young couples and casual sex vs. a traditional relationship, I still like the Cruz/Locsin vehicle better. Justin Timberlake isn’t enough of a dork for me to identify with. He’s too cool. Cruz, on the other hand, does numerous things during his courtship of Locsin that make you cringe from sheer cheesiness.
However, I can’t give the movie a full pass because I don’t approve of the way they set up Locsin’s character (Ces) and then reduced her to a blubbering cliché by the end. At the start of the film, Ces is a go-getter: competent and independent. She’s shown in her element, schooling Mackie (Cruz) on the rules of the profession. For the first two-thirds of the movie, I simply thought she didn’t want to become “officially” attached to Mackie because she was essentially married to her job.
Then all of a sudden, the writers bring in this element of a former lover who abandoned her. She breaks down, relating this story about how he left her for his job and now she was too scared to love again, blah blah blah. The sob story comes out of nowhere and totally takes me out of the narrative. And it’s not fun story like Renée Zellweger monologue in Down with Love either. It’s just a wall of drama that stops the plot in its tracks. They could have easily used the subplot of Ces being offered a job in Singapore to provide the catalyst to the lovers’ crux. I really think the whole third act completely weakens her character.