This is a review of the Star Cinema movie Can We Still Be Friends?
Before I start, I have to say that I do not expect much when I watch romantic comedies. I know that romcoms are more about kilig moments, hugot lines, attractive people gazing at each other, and friends who act as audience surrogates. I know what I am getting into, and most of the time I am entertained.
For a related entry, please read Can We Still Be Friends? – Hugot Edition.
Can We Still Be Friends? is a romantic comedy movie directed by Prime Cruz. It is the second team-up of Gerald Anderson and Arci Muñoz collectively known as Gerci, who starred together in Always Be My Maybe in 2016.
Can We Still Be Friends? celebrates the millennials and their lifestyles. The epitomes of millennials are Digs (Gerald Anderson) and Sam (Arci Muñoz), also known by their online aliases, DazedRobot and RockyGirl, respectively. They started as strangers who bonded over their common love for video games, later on they became friends and ultimately lovers.
Digs and Sam have been together for almost eight years, but it is obvious that they are in a rut. They live together in a condominium unit that is their joint investment, and living in a confined space makes things complicated. They say that familiarity breeds contempt, and contempt is what Sam feels for some of Digs’ habits. He does not refill the water bottles in the refrigerator, and Sam is tired of drinking tepid water. He feeds her pancit canton (calamansi) with poached eggs and squid balls in lieu of a romantic dinner. He does not open the door for her. He does not make a U-turn to pick her up in the opposite lane. Moreover, Sam has a stable yet toxic (Digs’ word) job at an advertising agency, while Digs is contented with freelance work although he is a talented artist. Soon, bills pile up and Digs has a hard time paying his half of the expenditures. To make matters worse, the embodiment of Sam’s life goals, Emanuelle, has a perfect existence: a boyfriend who worships the ground she walks on, respect in the workplace, and job promotion.
Sam’s dissatisfaction with her life and with her relationship with Digs comes to a head during their supposedly-romantic staycation. A marriage proposal plan goes awry, which makes Sam and Digs realize that the former is unhappy. This is when the lovers turn into exes, and the title of the movie is uttered (at a different place). Apparently, they can still be friends and even live in the same condominium unit together. Of course, it will be a super duper boring movie if Sam and Digs just fall back in love and live happily ever after.
The millennial friends need to support the ex-couple. It cannot be a millennial barkada without the token vivacious girl (Erika Padilla), the token gay friend (Juan Miguel Severo), and the token chill bro (Brian Sy). It is imperative for the friends to give advice, and apparently for millennials, like manna from heaven, Tinder solves all problems. Through Tinder, the millennial ex-couple separately dates their Tinder matches.
The third and the fourth parties, although given sufficient screen time, are two-dimensional and considered mere nuisances rather than serious threats to the happy ending that Sam and Digs will definitely get at the end.
In terms of acting, Anderson is the lesser of two evils. He seems natural in front of the camera. He is decent in funny scenes and not so bad in dramatic moments. However, one of the highlights of Can We Still Be Friends? does not involve his acting chops but his dance skills. Thank goodness, the guy has dance background because the first part of the movie looks like a school play gone bad. His dance number saved the first 20 minutes of the flick.
One cannot deny that Muñoz is a gorgeous lady, but she out-pabebes the pabebe queens of local show business. I do not know if she talks like a 12 year old in real life, but in this movie, she talks and whines like a spoiled little girl. For a supposedly semi-successful ad agent, she seems needy and feeble (If this is the direction she got, then it was inconsistent with her character). Her voice and her mannerisms are annoying and make me stabby. Also, she does not enunciate the words properly, like she has a hard time opening her mouth or moving her tongue. I cannot understand 60% of what she says. I watch Spanish and Argentinean movies and tv shows without subtitles, and I understand those more than I understand Muñoz. To boot, watching her is agonizingly painful because she overacts and her expressions are weird and not cute weird, but scary weird. My eyes and ears are still traumatized.
Regarding the millennial friends and dates, the only stand out is the gay friend due to his nakakadurog ng puso, albeit rather long wedding vows. Although he looks unfocused like someone memorizing the lines while delivering them, his voice over is fitting for the scenes that appear onscreen. Despite the far from perfect elocution of the vows, it does not fail to make one emotional. I still think that the “fake” wedding vows of Kathniel in Can’t Help Falling In Love is better.
If I had to answer the question Can We Still Be Friends? I would not be friends with this movie. It is as predictable as the sun rising in the east and setting in the west, with the interval between the opening and the end credits as dreadful as imagining listening to Muñoz say “lab” (love) on repeat for almost two hours. The intermittent funny lines and situations are easily eclipsed by the awkward dead air between the leads. For a couple of times there, it took me back to my organic chemistry class when Doctor Javellana told us that asking us was like watching a CNN reporter in a remote area answer the question of the anchor in the studio, it took forever for us to react. Digs and Sam had moments like that, forever to react is an exaggeration, but there are moments when it crossed my mind that maybe one of them forgot the line and there was a second or two that passed with them just staring at each other.
The horrible acting, mostly by Muñoz, hinders emotional investment in this movie. For example, when they shout at each other just before Digs moves out, it should have been a painful moment, but everything leading to this scene is borderline irritating, so that moment becomes meh instead of huhuhu. Another scene, the one with the dog, should have touched an emotional chord (I love love love dogs) but Muñoz’s incredulous acting and unintelligible sounds are too distracting and off-putting to empathize with her.
If I could turn back the hands of time, I would save the P280.00 (US $5.60) I spent for Can We Still Be Friends? and use the idle time to watch grass grow.