A heavy issue tackled lightly. Flawed at formulaic man, nag-succeed ang Just the 3 of Us in eliciting smiles from its audience. Panuorin kung #TeamLloydie, #TeamJennylyn, or #TeamPinoyRomCom ka.
SYNOPSIS: “Just The 3 Of Us” is centered on an unlikely love story between polar opposites Uno (Cruz) and CJ (Mercado) – two strangers, and how one night changes their lives forever. Unforeseen circumstances collide and force Uno and CJ to live under the same roof as they both deal with their sense of responsibility and their yearning for security. Uno is motivated by his sense of family while CJ is governed by an unconditional love that should put her child first above everything else.
The unlikely thing that binds Uno and CJ together paves the way for them to find in each other the kind of love they never thought they needed.
DIRECTOR: Cathy Garcia-Molina
WRITERS: Kiko Abrillo, Gilliann Ebreo, Katherine Labayen, and Vanessa R. Valde
CAST: JennyLyn Mercado | John Lloyd Cruz | Richard Yap | Ketchup Eusebio | Fifth Solomon | Maria Isabel Lopez | Joel Torre | Manuel Chua | Joem Bascon
Kung rom-com at rom-com lang rin naman ang pag-uusapan, isang tingin pa lang sa credentials ng Just the 3 of Us,alam mong it has the makings of a sure hit. For one, it has the “dream team” of romantic comedies sa ngayon. Actors old and new aspire to be THE John Lloyd Cruz (see: “Iba yun. Si John Lloyd ‘yun, e.”) of One More Chance, Miss You Like Crazy, A Very Special Love, and My Amnesia Girl fame, what with his signature mysterious, brooding leading man appeal.
Jennylyn Mercado, fresh from her consecutive outings as resident doe-eyed, perky little miss sunshine in movies like English Only, Please and Walang Forever—roles that gave her best actress trophies recently struck a chord with viewers.This time, poster boy of box-office romantic comedies meets the newest addition to the roster of rom-com queens reigning today at the tills. Idagdag pa ang kilalang rom-com box office director na si Cathy Garcia Molina (She’s Dating the Gangster, A Second Chance) and you know isang malaking fan-extravaganza ang pelikula. On paper, the three give the promise of a perfect recipe for a good popcorn flick. Ang end result, Just the Three of Us is a fairly-cooked romantic comedy treat that delivered the kilig, the fun, and the usual John Lloyd satisfaction for fans.
Simple ang kwento ng J3U. Iikot sa isang chance meeting sa isang post-flight celebration of the people behind Liberty Pacific Airlines. Uno Abusado (John Lloyd Cruz)—lo and behold, heartthrob sya ng lahat dito from flight attendants to soon-to-be stewardesses—gets action in a public restroom with a red dress-wearing vixen, CJ Manalo (Jennylyn Mercado).
Three weeks later, a not-so glamorous and cleavage-exposing version of the seductress Uno met in his random tryst pops up and calls him her “baby daddy” (pronounced: beybi dadehhh). Obviously, Uno demanded a paternity test, which will then be available 6 weeks into CJ’s pregnancy. The plot thickened when CJ decided to leave her job, town, and family, in an attempt to delay what she expects to be a big family disappointment—with her being the first flight attendant in her family and her hometown. A cat-and-mouse race then ensued, hanggang sa dumating na lang sila sa kasunduang hintayin ang pagdating ng “tamang panahon” (no AlDub reference intended).
Suspension of disbelief muna. Let’s just say that in the real world, it is okay for an unsure girl to point fingers to a random man and call him responsible for the baby in her womb. Let’s just also say na may babaeng nasa matinong pagiisip rin na hahayaang lunukin ang pride, maiensure lang na di malalaman ng mga magulang niya na ang unang stewardess ng kanilang pamilya, correction, ng buong bayan nila ay nabuntis ng lalaking di niya man lang mapaniwalang sa kanya ang bata.
It is a serious topic. So, medyo questionable kung bakit ginawang dumbed-down ang pagtalakay sa mabigat na klase ng crisis meron ang mga karakter ng pelikula.
In a Catholic nation where pregnancy out of wed-lock is still considered taboo, Just the 3 of Us is laudable for its attempt to reshape mainstream psyche. Ang masama nga lang, naka-package pa rin ito into a saccharine, formulaic rom-com, such that viewers will still think, “Sa pelikula lang pwede yan.” Maraming mga “What-the-f-are-you-still-doing-there” moments sa pelikula na, to a certain extent, hindi na believable. Maraming mga wrong decisions ang mga characters na, if viewed by an outsider in the real world, does not make any sense. It sounded more ludicrous than funny.
But that’s formula. It’s still boy-meets-girl. Nagkataon lang na may complications. It is basically reminiscent of Korean comedy love flicks where a silly storyline still leads magically to love. In this case, naitawid naman nang maayos ang kuwento ng struggle of an unemployed soon-to-be mother while trying to make ends meet. Sana nga lang nagkaroon ng mas malalim ng diskusyon ang pelikula ng tungkol sa mga kasong ganito. Pero, kahit papaano, it worked.
The simplicity of the plot made it compelling—or to say the least, madaling maabsorb ng viewer. Ang maganda dito, hindi na kinailangan mag-sanga-sanga ng maraming subplots ang pelikula para lang humaba o mas maging interesting. Formulaic man, the entirety of the movie fairly stayed on one course. Buo ang pagkakasulat sa mga karakter, kaya naman dadaloy ang pelikula na parang kilala mo ang mga nasa screen. May mga inclusions of side-characters that didn’t feel unnecessary at kahit ang quick insertion ng conflicting elements (and by conflict, I mean Baron Geisler) ay hindi nakapagpagulo sa maayos na paglatag ng kwento.
May areas or portions where the script failed though. At times, especially at the beginning of the movie, CJ’s claims were grounded on really thin arguments that no sound viewer would say, “Oo nga naman”. There was one line she kept repeating na kahit ikaw na manunuod ay hindi kakagat, kung ikaw man ang nasa posisyon ni Uno. May abrupt shifts rin from one emotional state to another na literal na may maririnig ka na lang na reaksyon na “Ganun lang yun?” at may mga corny portions na tanging charms na lang ng mga bidang artista ang nagsalba. Don’t worry wala namang Dyamper-esque “Ang dami ko nang napagdaanan, wala na akong ibang pwedeng gawin kundi ang tumalon” cheesiness sa movie.
The magic, though, is in the two actors and how the director wove the story to make the two shine. John Lloyd Cruz is obviously in his element with the character of Uno, and with Direk CGM at the helm, he, as per usual, soars. We might have seen one of his best works. But the problem with an actor like John Lloyd Cruz ay ang paghiwalay ng aktor sa karakter, vice versa. Masyado na nga sigurong nakahulma kay John Lloyd ang mga ganitong karakter na mahirap nang paghiwa-hiwalayin ang mga interpretasyon niya ng mga karakter sa mga nauna na niyang nagawa. Fresh from his role in Hele sa Hiwagang Hapis, JLC did the role justice, albeit showing nuances and “JohnLloydisms” that hark back on other portrayals in films past. But then I am just nitpicking. This is one of his best performances, dare I say.
Same goes with his partner. Jennylyn Mercado did well, too. Sakto ang timpla ng comedy at drama sa portrayal niya ng babaeng torn between owning up to her mistake and seeing the disappointment in the eyes of her family. Her role as an overly-positive girl could be overcooked. But with a good director, she did it well. With these performances, and with a plot that is not too convoluted, it transcends from just another rom-com between unlikely characters immersed in yet another illogical times. The movie banked on the two characters’ relatability–not so much on the kilig. Makikitawa ka sa kanila, makikireact, at makikikwestyon ng motives. Their flaws make up their characters and as a viewer, you gravitate toward how they live with it.
Marami ring remarkable performances from the supporting cast. Maria Isabel Lopez and Joel Torre did amazing as parents. Priceless ang isang eksena kung saan inilahad na ni CJ ang mabigat niyang sikreto sa kaniyang mga magulang.
Gaya nga ng sabi ng mga magulang ni CJ, “Di kami sang-ayon sa mga maling desisyon mo pero mahal ka namin.” Ganito rin ang panunuod sa Just the 3 of Us, the faults in the movie doesn’t necessarily mean, hindi ito nagdeliver.