In all the years I’ve been watching movies, I’ve learned not to expect too much from films with all star casts, mainly because of the billing factor, or the drive of directors to consciously or unconsciously ensure that all the stars get equal billing or exposure. As a result, most of these films never truly make it past the average mark, and this is exactly what happened to 24/7 in Love, Star Cinema’s 20th anniversary presentation.
24/7 in Love is a romantic comedy in an anthology format, meaning each story is briefly interlinked by a main story but have no relationship whatsoever with each other. The main story is about a teenager Jane (Kathryn Bernardo) who wants to spend December 21, 2012 when the world will supposedly end, with her pop star idol Billy Fernandez (Daniel Padilla). In order to do so, she shoots a video where she interviews people about they want to do on that very same day, so she could win a backstage pass to his concert. During the process, she comes across Virginia (Pokwang), a 40-year-old virgin who meets a Fil-Am callboy Charles (Sam Milby) and forms a connection with him. There’s Barbara (Maja Salvador), an assistant who is head over heels in love for her boss Ken (Diether Ocampo). There’s Verna (Angelica Panganiban) who escapes to another country to get away from the pain of betrayal by her husband and finds comfort in the arms of an OFW Elvis (John Lloyd Cruz). On the other side of the fence, there’s Belle (Bea Alonzo) who is carrying a torch for her gay best friend Butch (Zanjoe Marudo). There’s also a puppy love episode featuring cuties Zaijan Maranilla as Jomar and the object of his affection Ayie (Xyriel Manabat) with Piolo Pascual playing Jomar’s retarded best friend. Also, there’s high school sweethearts Patty (Kim Chiu) and Alvin (Gerald Anderson) who meet each other again after years apart and sort through their feelings as they weigh what is truly important.
It all sounds overwhelming right? In a way, it was because the movie only spanned a little over two hours and there were too many stories to be told within the time frame. Some worked and some didn’t. I think Star Cinema went a little nuts with their experimentation and there were a few miscasts that would have benefitted from juggling some of the roles.
For me, I would have cast the role of the callboy to Diether and put Sam in the role of the rich tycoon because Diether’s lines were mostly in English and Sam would have pulled it off effortlessly. On the other hand, Diether would have fed off Pokwang’s energy, and made the temporary callboy role sell because he had a great smile that lit up his eyes. It would have driven the girls nuts. Besides, Maja and Diether had no chemistry whatsoever making their episode awkward and boring. Also, while I admire Piolo as a good actor, I think that his retarded role did not really come across as effective. The kids carried the entire episode with a slight exception of Piolo’s final talk with Zaijan about chocolates. I liked the episode of Bea and Zanjoe the most because with the limited time, they were able to tell a complete story. They also seemed very comfortable with their roles. I’m not a big fan of Bea’s comedic timing, but as Belle, she was able personify an adorable kooky girl with nerves of steel. And while I was a big fan of the Kimerald tandem, no matter how hard Gerald Anderson tried the smouldering look on Kim, it just wasn’t the same anymore.
24/7 in Love was not a bad movie. It just so happened that because of all the big stars, and the limited time allotted for each episode, each one just seemed incomplete, which was a pity for the stars, as well as the entire film. There was no room to flesh out the stories, there was no chance to invest in the characters emotionally because pretty soon, the story would move along to the next one. With the exception of a lot of cheesy love songs that seemed to string the stories together, the last scene where every cast member was together in one venue (Billy’s concert) seemed forced just to put an end to the production line of short love stories that were lopsided in its effectiveness, some more successful than others. If it were left up to me, I would have focused on just three stories or even one story with an all star cast with roles that would reap then awards rather than pit them together like sardines in a can, unable to move freely or act their best. For their 20th year in the business, Star Cinema made the mistake of choosing quantity over quality, going for the generic strategy that would work in the box office rather than presenting a high quality feature that would identify the Star Cinema brand with theatrical masterpieces. Such a shame because with 20 years in the business, they should have known better.