Sakal, Sakali, Saklolo (Jose Javier Reyes, 2007)
Sakal, Sakali, Saklolo, like most of Jose Javier Reyes' slice-of-life dramas and comedies, is trite entertainment. The film is the result of the kneejerk reaction of film studio execs when Reyes' Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo (To Marry, To Join, To Share) made lots of money. Sakal, Sakali, Saklolo continues the story of newly-married couple, Jed (Ryan Agoncillo) and Angie (Judy Ann Santos), who during the final minutes of Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo reconcile after the birth of their son. The sequel's not as good. It lacks the refreshing charm, the sincere attitude, and the novelty of the original. It helps that it was released during the usually dispensible yearly Metro Manila Film Festival where most mainstream studios release half-baked products while the moviegoing market is cornered. Compared to the brainless and unspectacular spectacles, the tepid family dramas, and the inept horrors, Sakal, Sakali, Saklolo feels like an absolute masterpiece.
Of course, Sakal, Sakali, Saklolo is definitely not a masterpiece. It's quite far from it. At its best, the film is enjoyable but completely forgettable. At its worst, it is overly indulgent and excrutiatingly redundant. The film starts where Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo ended, with Jed and Angie in supposed bliss over their renewed romance and their firstborn. Reyes keeps the story in lightning pace, with scenes jumping right after another with the efficiency of a clockwork assembly line. The jokes are executed in a similar manner, with characters mouthing one-liners and retorts with the accuracy of a rusty gatling gun. That's basically my problem with this film, and even with Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo. It is too busy in telling a very simple story with overly glorified with unnecessary sideplots, thus turning the film into what feels like an episodic, contrived, and scattered sitcom for the silver screen.
Divided into three parts like Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo, Sakal, Sakali, Saklolo proceeds on detailing the hardships of parenthood for Jed and Angie. The first part (Sakal, which roughly means to strangle) is concerned about the new parents balancing their responsibilities with their jobs, themselves, their baby and their parents. The second part (Sakali, which roughly means to chance upon) mainly focuses on the couple's trip to Barcelona where they leave their toddler son to be taken cared of by their respective parents. The third part (Saklolo, which roughly means to help) has the couple giving back to their respective mothers who are experiencing differing conflicts with Jed's mother (Gloria Diaz) suffering from what she thinks is cancer but is actually severe bouts of inattention, and Angie's mother (Gina Pareño) falling in love quite belatedly with a widowered Filipino-American (Freddie Webb). While the three-part format might have worked with Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo because the themes in that movie were carefully structured (marriage, difficulties with the in-laws, and infidelity), the same cannot be said with Sakal, Sakali, Saklolo. The three-part format here is unconvincing.
Reyes can be a very good screenwriter if he is writing about a milieu or a topic that he is familiar with: the Philippine middle class, their problems, relationships, their lives in general. Reyes' screenplay here is composed mostly of bickering: between husband and wife, husband and mother, wife and mother, wife and friends, mother-in-law and mother-in-law. It's a very talkative film, with characters fuming marital and familial angst, anger, and fury, with hyperactive fervor. It's all a bit too chaotic, with the film having barely no time to breathe or at least exude a really impressionable sentiment. It seems like Reyes thought that Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo worked because of his self-aware writing and assumed the sequel needed more than that kind of writing. His assumption is dangerously incorrect since Sakal, Sakali, Saklolo turned out to be ridiculously overwritten, and overly plotted.
Unfortunately, the film veers away from the affectingly familiar sentimentality that made Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo's appreciable familial weirdness so delightful. Sakal, Sakali, Saklolo, with its concentration on showing the beauty of Barcelona, its incessant mouthiness, its hyperbolic parents-in-law, and its supposedly humorous abnormality, is entertainment that works best during Christmas, when all local mainstream producers fart out movies and expect the moviegoing public to spend their year-end bonuses watching them.