Review: 'Boyfriend No. 13' is a charming rom-com flaws and all

Rick Olivares

Posted at Sep 03 2021 06:12 PM

Sue Ramirez with JC Santos and JC de Vera in 'Boyfriend No. 13'
Sue Ramirez with JC Santos and JC de Vera in 'Boyfriend No. 13'

"Boyfriend No. 13" is a charming romantic comedy that will put a smile to your lips. Like any good rom-com film or series, it will make also make you laugh, go,“oops” or “oh, no” and “heh” when a scene that you didn’t see coming occurs.

The eight-episode series is about a superstitious novelist who believes she has met the man of her dreams except he is her 13th boyfriend – an unlucky number -- so she enters an agreement with another man who will take the place of the 13th boyfriend so when things go awry, she can be with the man she believe is her destiny. And yet, as always, the best laid plans of mice and women go astray.

Directed by John Lapus, "Boyfriend No. 13" stars Sue Ramirez as Kimverly Santillan while JC Santos and JC de Vera play Bob Dominguez and Don Lee, respectively, as suitors who vie for the former’s heart.

Phi Palmos and Hershey Neri play Ramirez’s best friends Echo and Manet, while Brian Sy plays the supporting role of Josh, Bob’s cousin and the boss of both Kimverly and Bob in their publishing company. Lotlot de Leon plays Kimverly’s mother Beverly, and Ricardo Cepeda is Don’s father, William. 

The series aired from July 2 to July 30, 2021 and can be watched on WeTV Philippines. 

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The camera just loves Ramirez who owns every scene that involves her. Not only does her effervescent personality shine but it super helps that whoever handled her wardrobe did a good job. She’s stunning!

Ramirez effortlessly jumps from the funny -- especially when she breaks the fourth wall -- to the tortured to the serious. And there’s more. She sings the catchy theme song that first had me wondering if it was Aia de Leon. But no! How much more talented can Ramirez get?

And the chemistry between Kim and Bob (de Vera holds his own against the gale force known as Ramirez) is wonderful, and yet, I wonder if that was a giveaway. The fact that the checklist for Bob’s character gets ticked off is a giveaway as the checklist is also a metaphor for how Kim views a relationship.

And the flipside is there isn’t much exposition into Don’s character until the later episodes and you wonder early on if he is just this meathead character. Obviously, Kim sees the idealized half-naked version of de Vera’s Don, and you kind of figure out that this is superficial.

On this note, what I am getting at it, "Boyfriend No. 13" could have been perfect. And that irks me a bit because you want this to be every bit as good as top notch foreign rom-coms. You see influences like "Serendipity" and K-drama techniques imbued with good ol' Filipino drama. And I love it. 

Yet., I think they miss out on some key elements.

To wit, the characters of Echo and Manet are so alike. They might have a bit of a different look to life but they act so much alike. Not only among themselves, but also Kim. All three have similar mannerisms. I think the story would have been served better if they were polar opposites; a yin and yang. As such the two appear on occasions as like her inner voice. 

And for most of every episode, the three get together with the two offering the same thoughts and advice except when they all think that Don is “the one” for Kim. Had their appearances been fewer, it would have more impact.

Lotlot de Leon, on the other hand, was darn good. She was good in every scene.

I think the producers also missed out on some things that would have eased how it all tied up in the final episode. During the first date between Kim and Don in a Korean restaurant, the latter inquiries about Kim’s line of work as a novelist. And this is following his accident where she falls after inadvertently being nailed by a toy arrow by Bob. 

Er, there was a major book launch and we hear nothing more of it? Er, I don’t know about you guys but no way is an office like that conducive to creative work. Writers need space and lots of quiet. Not some frat or sorority-like atmosphere. 

There’s another moment too when Kim brings Bob to meet her family. She warns him that if he thinks she is superstitious, her family is even more so. And yet, we don’t see it. I’ll bet it would have been hilarious and even kooky.

Overall, in my opinion, it suffers from length where the scriptwriters stretch the story, the sub-plots (what was the point of the love problems of Echo and Manet), and scenes that some become irksome. I think it could use less contrivances. This could have all been told in five or six episodes.

To quote Kim during her first date with Bob, “Not bad? Far from perfect kamo.”

Let me explain my last sentence: it could be perfect or close to the realm of perfect. I just think there were some disjointedness in the middle. They might have crammed a bit too much in the final episode, but without giving away spoilers, the producers wrapped up the series quite nicely. Poignantly. 

And this is where you smile, nod, laugh, and go “heh.”

Just like any good rom-com should do.

I still recommend and it laud the cast and crew. I’d love to see more.