MANILA — Comedy superstar Vice Ganda on Monday addressed critics of his big-screen offerings, which have become a holiday staple among Filipino moviegoers.
Vice Ganda is co-starring with Anne Curtis in the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) entry “The Mall, The Merrier,” about rival siblings claiming ownership of a mall.
The Star Cinema and Viva Films co-production is Vice Ganda’s seventh MMFF entry since 2012. Each of them led the box-office tally of participating movies in their respective year.
In a press conference Monday ahead of the Christmas Day release of “The Mall, The Merrier,” Vice Ganda defended the consistent inclusion of his films in the MMFF, when asked for his reaction to those who are asking for “something new” to be shown in the annual event.
“Hindi puwedeng mawala sa buhay natin ang comedy. Hindi puwedeng mawala sa Pasko ang comedy. Can you imagine Christmas without comedy?” he began. (See the 49:15 mark in the video below.)
Vice Ganda then questioned the apparent notion, at least among Filipinos, that comedy has less value compared to other genres on the big screen.
“Comedy is a genre. It’s a legit genre. It’s as special as drama, adventure, action. Hindi ko lang maintindihan kung bakit parang ang baba ng tingin ng tao sa comedy, na hindi siya kasing-antas ng drama. Sa Pilipinas lang siguro,” he said.
Taking off from the question’s mention of the emerging “call-out culture” on social media, Vice Ganda added: “Kailangan i-call out din natin, na mali ho ‘yung mababang tingin niyo sa comedy, na kinikuwestiyon niyo ‘yung kahalagahan ng comedy sa pelikula at sa buhay in general.”
“Kailangan ng Pilipinas ng comedy, kailangan ng Pilipinas ng komedyante… Comedy is very important,” he said.
Over the years since his 2010 film lead debut via “Petrang Kabayo,” Vice Ganda has increasingly taken on creative roles, with decisions ranging from casting, to screenplay, outfits, and even on-the-spot jokes during filming.
He continues that streak in “The Mall, The Merrier” with director Barry Gonzalez, with whom he also collaborated in the 2018 MMFF top-grosser “Fantastica.”
“We sit down first bago namin ‘yung eksena, and then nagdadagdag,” Gonzalez said, mentioning Vice Ganda’s team of comedians Chad Kinis, Brenda Mage, MC, and Lassy, among others.
“‘Pagdating mo roon, minsan, ‘Ay, parang hindi pa nakakatawa.’ Ipu-push pa, magbibigay siya ng mga input, ang bilis, instant, kasi matalino talaga si Ganda. Sa mga ganoon, ang laking tulong para sa pelikula,” the director explained.
When Gonzalez was asked if he is expecting any festival award for “The Mall, The Merrier,” Vice Ganda interjected, mentioning Best Float — a reference to his past entries drawing huge crowds, but little to no trophies.
Gonzalez then gave a serious answer, expressing confidence in their chances of being recognized for the film’s visual effects. He teased a large-scale fight scene involving mall fixtures coming to life, with Vice Ganda pointing out the genre crosses over to adventure in the movie’s latter half.
“The Mall, The Merrier,” the collaborators added, will feature a far bigger cast than expected. In promotions, cast members confirmed include Dimples Romana, Tony Labrusca, Ion Perez, Elisse Joson, and Jameson Blake.