Quick Take: The Mall, The Merrier

Some say I’ve been overly critical of Vice Ganda’s MMFF entries, especially last year’s Fantastica, which I described as “lazy,” “not even trying,” and “an extended Goin’ Bulilit or Banana Sundae episode.” I’m glad to report that The Mall, The Merrier (M&M) is a degree better than Fantastica, in part thanks to Vice’s unique characterization and acting. But with Fantastica setting the bar so low, being better than it doesn’t say much.

Moira (Vice Ganda) and Morissette (Anne Curtis) are estranged siblings reunited by their parents’ untimely demise. They fight over the rights to their family’s prized property, Tamol Mall. Meanwhile, an incantation from a mysterious book gives life to toys, posters, and characters inside the mall, and the siblings join forces to reverse the spell.

If you think this whole animation thing is a rip-off of Night at the Museum, you are absolutely correct. The mall dance opening is also strikingly similar to Sausage Party. Heck, it even borrows heavily from Vice and Pia’s sisterly relationship in Gandarrapido! The Revenger Squad and Ai-Ai’s in Sisterakas. Taking inspiration from other films isn’t a sin, but is there something new or significant that’s being said that warrants this new film’s existence?

I don’t think there is. It’s the same old formula. The same slapstick tomfooleries. The same habit of objectifying men. The same old message – and treatment – of sisterhood and family. It’s repetitive, tired, and unnecessary.

It’s no blow against Vice Ganda, as nobody else in the industry can top his cumulative box office achievements – and he has mentioned multiple times that grosses matter to him more than awards. However, it’s all indicative of the need for change.

We all know he is capable of substantive comedies. I’ve repeated time and time again how groundbreaking Super Parental Guardians and This Guy’s In Love With You Mare were as far as pushing the LGBTQ+ agenda is concerned. Why not use his box office clout as a platform to transform the game?

I can only hope it happens sooner rather than later. If my experience of sitting through an almost empty cinema is any sign, the clamor is much stronger than what we give it credit for.

Directed by: Barry Gonzales
Starring: Vice Ganda, Anne Curtis