Joven Tan’s And Ai, Thank You is reminiscent of the comedies from decades ago where the humor is upfront, the moralizing is blatant, and the clear draw is the charms of the leading star.
Nothing in terms of narrative
The plot is simple.
Aileen (Ai Ai de las Alas), an award-winning actress who is loved by the industry but is loathed by the people closest to her, learns that she is dying from cancer. Given that she only has a few months to live, she proceeds to take the oddest jobs, seemingly to repay those who have been instrumental to her success. However, her manager (Joey Paras), driver (Dennis Padilla), and personal assistant (Kakai Bautista) can’t feel the effects of their boss’ deliberate change of heart.
There is really nothing in And Ai, Thank You in terms of narrative. There is very little when it comes to surprises or sudden strokes of genius.
Tan is adamant in using the plot as a frame to exhibit a string of gags. He obviously knows that his film is nothing without its jokes, and in all fairness to him and his ingenuity here, he assembles a healthy collection of inanities that make his otherwise bland narrative one that is entertaining if only because of the chuckles from ingenious sight gags and effortless buffoonery.
A showcase for delas Alas
And Ai, Thank You is a showcase for delas Alas’ skill as a comedienne.
De las Alas powers through the droll stupidity of it all, lapping up the eccentric scenarios without hesitation. The effect is palpable. The staggered scene where her character, garbed in her bejeweled heels, has to walk through tight alleyways, cross makeshift bridges, and pass by drunkards and other slum-dwellers, is funny because of the absurdity of both its staging and performances. She works amazingly with the supporting cast, allowing them to also shine with their own brand of comedy.
And Ai, Thank You is pleasant if only it persisted to be the guiltless bag of gags that is should have been.
Sadly, its pleasures dissolve when it becomes serious, when it surrenders to having a point, and when de las Alas and the rest of the cast abandon their being comedians to become thespians in dramatic moments that just don’t fit.
And Ai, Thank You inevitably fails because it decided to follow its conscience and cap its fruitful foolishness with the lowest hanging fruit – a gaudy moral.
And Ai, Thank You just doesn’t match Echoserang Frog (2014) in terms of relentlessness.
It is bogged down by its attempt to fit its crassness within the construct of a worthwhile parable. There are traces of it being critical of show business. Sadly, that is inevitably abandoned in favor of being a convenient morality play, making And Ai, Thank You a wasted opportunity for Tan to do what he does best, which is to portray the hilariously ludicrous excesses of the entertainment sector from the perspective of an insider. — Rappler.com
Francis Joseph Cruz litigates for a living and writes about cinema for fun. The first Filipino movie he saw in the theaters was Carlo J. Caparas' Tirad Pass.
Since then, he's been on a mission to find better memories with Philippine cinema.