Ayef (Belle Mariano) was a plucky girl who worked at the 24-Ever convenience store with her friends Jobert (Adrian Lindayag) and Kookie (Iana Bernardez). She was an aspiring animation artist who was hoping she could get accepted into an internship with a Singaporean firm. She lived with her stressed-out hotel manager mother Terry (Matet de Leon) and her meek henpecked father Filemon (Epy Quizon).
Manny (Donnie Pangilinan) was a rich boy who just opened his own plant shop he called "Halamanny" with his minions Ben 1 (Chino Liu) and Ben 2 (Brian Sy). His tyrannical tycoon father Wilfredo Siena (Tirso Cruz III) had separated from Manny's mother Meryl (Teresa Loyzaga), and brought his former cook, now mistress Agnes (Precious Lara Quigaman) and their autistic son Dobs (JC Alcantara) to live in his mansion.
This was yet another reiteration of the very old rich boy-poor girl romance trope. Writers Daisy Cayanan and Enrico Santos gave it a twist by having Ayef and Manny give their relationship an "expiration date" -- the day Ayef would be flying off to Singapore. As things usually went in romance films like this, of course Ayef and Manny eventually fall in love with each other, throwing an expected wrench into their convenient arrangement.
This movie worked mainly because of the irresistible chemistry between lead stars Belle Mariano and Donnie Pangilinan, and director Petersen Vargas wisely played it up. Both stars did very well in their delightful comic scenes like that funny sequence of Manny buying items that totaled P143 with Ayef at the cash register; as well as their tearful dramatic moments, like that bitter confrontation after a disastrous birthday dinner.
Veteran character actresses Matet de Leon and Teresa Loyzaga stood out with their riveting but painfully caustic portrayals of imperfect motherhood. Epy Quizon proved again that he can do gentle roles as well as those weird quirky roles he is more known for. Tirso Cruz III was just being a one-dimensional villain the whole time. JC Alcantara was sadly underused in his ultimately challenging, yet ultimately inconsequential supporting role.
This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."