After the smashing success of their first major film pairing Bakit Hindi Ka Crush ng Crush Mo Last year, Star Cinema did not waste time to schedule a follow up movie for young stars Kim Chiu and Xian Lim, this time, in a more overt romantic comedy that from the trailer alone, managed to snap the interest of viewers wanting to watch something light and feel good in the first month of the year. True enough, in the first four days of showing, the film has managed to rake in P100 million already. By the number of people lining up in the cinemas to see these two on screen, the studios have plenty more to smile about in the following weeks.
Kim plays the role of Racqui, short for Racqulita dela Cruz, a poor girl who helps support her family by auditioning as a talent for commercials and selling bras to her fellow auditionees. When Rocco (Xian), a spoiled rich brat, unwittingly blows off the money intended as a deposit by their advertising client after a night of drunken partying, and goes into debt because of an unwise bet, he hires Racqi to act as his wife, so that the millions in his trust fund would be released to him by his grandmother (Pilita Corales).
There is nothing original about the plot of Bride for Rent. If audiences are looking for a thought provoking love story, this is not the movie for them. In all fairness to the film, it did not claim to be more than it was — a guaranteed two hours of fun and hilarity and of course, the trademark family angle of Star Cinema. In this aspect, the film delivered — in spades.
Kim has been honed and tried as a dramatic actress, starring in countless soaps showcasing her skills in drama but never has she been pushed to project in comedy in the way this film has. In her series My Girl and BDKCNCM, she was wacky and funny but as the spunky Racqui, she totally went all out and let go of any inhibitions she may still have in order to bring to life her character. As a result, the studios hit a home run with her portrayal, and with the way the audiences were responding to her on screen antics, she did justice to her role in all aspects — comedy, drama, and romance. The way that she switches from comedy to drama in an instant is reminiscent of Maricel Soriano and Ai ai delas Alas that I could not help but admire her for her versatility. Xian on the other hand, is already an expert in delivering swoon worthy looks and his acting is improving by the day. He is still a work in progress but it is obvious that he is trying to keep up with his counterparts. He used to be stiff and uncomfortable outside of his niche but he is slowly coming out of his shell and this is good news for him as an actor.His excellent chemistry with Kim did not hurt the movie at all.
Another MVP of the movie was Empoy. This dude does not need to do anything more than raise an eyebrow to be funny. He was so effortlessly hilarious that all of the scenes he was in immediately became automatic highlights. And Pilita Corales is timeless as the grandmother who only wanted the best for her only grandson.
The film’s strength actually lies with its ability to recognize the strength of the first movie and showcasing this in the follow up. It was clear about its objective — to give people temporary relief from their worries by making them fall in love, laugh and relax. It did not become overly ambitious to complicate the plot more than it needed to be. In doing so, it managed to tell a story, albeit simple and generic in a pace that audiences were able to follow and appreciate, instead of having to deal with awkwardly placed dramatics in the middle of the movie just to prove that the main actors can do drama as well.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not against upping the ante against the formulaic fare but there are different reasons why movies are made. In this case, Star Cinema did not misrepresent their intention so I cannot in all seriousness fault them for releasing Bride for Rent.
All in all, Bride for Rent fulfills the promise that its trailer made to the viewers. The movie was not unique, nor profound but it carried a positive message and it made people happy. The scenes where real life couples shared their thoughts on forever, as well as the generally positive vibe that surrounded the movie made the viewing experience all the more heartwarming and I for one, would want to see the movie again and again when it comes out on video.