Metro Weekly

Manay Po

Reel Affirmations 2007

Review by Sean Bugg

Rating: starstarstarstar (4 out of 5)
Saturday, 10/20/2007, 2:00 PM
Feature presentation, $10 at Lincoln Theatre
Tagalog with English subtitles

Like ZsaZsa Zaturnna, Manay Po is a wacky film from the Philippines. But unlike the campy comic-book vibe of the former, Manay Po feels like a tripped out mish-mash of American sitcoms as a distinctly different type of family endures a comic rash of misunderstandings and miscommunications.

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Luz is the mother of three boys: Oscar, Orson and Orwell. Oscar is gay, but in closet in hopes of providing Luz a grandchild. Orson is, well, the queen of the Philippines who dreams of winning the Miss Gay University pageant. And the pre-teen Orwell may not be on the road to heterosexuality himself.

As her three sons try to make sense of their own wacky lives, Luz goes for a big score with her jewelry sales business by putting up her house as collateral for a necklace and earrings worth millions. Of course, she’s immediately mugged and the earrings are stolen, leaving her to come up with some wacky schemes to save her house, hang on to her boyfriend and maybe — just maybe — make Orwell straight.

Since the title of the movie seems to translate as ”Sisters,” the direction the film takes isn’t a huge surprise, but it’s an enjoyable ride. Although Orson gets to be a bit much — there honestly aren’t enough stereotypes to explain how ridiculously gay he’s supposed to act — everyone brings just enough humanity to their broadly written roles to keep them sympathetic.

That’s a tough thing considering the situations they find themselves in, including Orwell’s trip to a Manila whorehouse with his best friend, who takes a look at the wares and says, ”They look like my grandmother.”

And if you like this one, perhaps you’ll find more at Reel Affirmations 18. There’s already a sequel, named in totally un-PC glory Manay Po 2: Three Gays and a Baby.

It’s sure to be wacky. — SB

Manay Po
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Sean Bugg is Editor Emeritus for Metro Weekly.