SKIN DEEP. In 'Papa Pogi,' a man is egged on by his family to date a less attractive woman to break a family curse. Screenshot from

The modus of Alex Calleja’s Papa Pogi is startlingly simple: to crack as many jokes as possible.

If only a small percentage of the jokes actually work, the film would have at least entertained all on the basis of a few laughs and chuckles.

Foolish plot

The modus would have worked if Papa Pogi isn’t beholden to its story.

It would have been far more enjoyable if it didn’t also pursue a point with its foolish plot on top of its intention to make its audience laugh. It would have worked better if the plot of Papa Pogi didn’t have slivers of promise, that beneath the silliness of its core tale – a man egged by his family to wed a not-so-attractive woman to get rid of a curse – it is also making a meaningful statement about physical beauty being skin-deep.

Romeo (Teddy Corpuz), the last remaining chance of a family to get rid of its curse of always having ugly male babies when they are married to beautiful women, is told by his sick father (Joey Marquez) and older brother (Jugs Jugueta) to start dating less appealing women. Just to please his family, he recruits Venus (Donna Cariaga), his plain-looking assistant who secretly likes him, to be his girlfriend. Little by little, they fall in love, except that Romeo is ashamed to admit that from living a life being chased by gorgeous women, he has ended up falling for someone less appealing.

Stand-up comedian

Clearly, Papa Pogi endeavors to be a satire.

Sadly, its dogged insistence to put humor above everything else turns it into a very frustratingly confused satire, one where the story treads towards one ideal direction but whose carelessly construed punchlines derail its nobler motives. The film makes the same mistakes of many other comedies whose put-on moralistic ambitions are derailed by gags that promote the perspectives it is supposedly rallying against.

Calleja, a stand-up comedian, is really in the business of telling jokes and not telling stories.

Papa Pogi really is just a string of gags and the plot that frames them feels like an afterthought. In fact, had the jokes been told by Calleja from a stage where he is alone and unfettered by the need to create a convincing world to support his narrative, they could possibly be funnier and less burdened by the need to be in consonance with some moralistic stance that is only there because Calleja’s audience is now broader.

The film is starved of irreverence. It is prevented from being truly hilarious because it also desires to be correct.   

Papa Pogi, with so much jokes that don’t land, is a letdown. Sure, Corpuz and Cariaga are fine in their respective roles. However, there really isn’t anything much for them to really play with. 

Failure to follow through

The biggest issue of Papa Pogi is that it fails to follow through.

As a result, both its enjoyment and its relevance are short-lived. –


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.

Source: Rappler

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