Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Film Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Slumdog Pornographer

The Pineda’s are a dysfunctional family which is coming apart at the seams even as they try to keep their fledgling porno theater afloat. At the point of departure, we find them living above the xxx-rated movie house located in a seedy section of the City of Angeles in the Philippines.
Matriarch Nanay Flor (Gina Pareno), we learn, is in the midst of a messy divorce from her philandering husband who left her for his mistress. Since she has to head off to court, it falls to the rest of the clan to pitch-in to keep the place running smoothly. Daughter Nayda (Jacklyn Jose), son-in-law Lando (Julio Diaz) and adopted daughter Jewel (Roxanne Jordan) take turns in the ticket booth, while nephew Ronald (Kristoffer King) serves as the projectionist and another nephew, Alan (Coco Martin), handles the billboard.
Despite their assorted duties, the Pineda’s somehow find time to get involved in activities almost as degenerate as what’s showing onscreen. Alan’s upset that he knocked up his girlfriend Merly (Mercedes Cabral). Nayda and Ronald are obviously attracted to each other and contemplating inbreeding, and budding beauty Jewel can be caught cavorting naked.
The kinky activities of this colorful cast of characters still pale in comparison to that of their establishment’s patrons, for the place is frequented by male prostitutes offering “serbis” or service to johns in the seats and the shadows of the dimly-lit theater. Director Brillante Mendoza’s scattershot approach to storytelling is mostly a shocking mix of scatology and sexplicit titillation which leaves little to the imagination.
The Filipino answer to Slumdog Millionaire, this variation on the Third World squalor theme plays like a sordid peep show where the principals have precious little to offer in the way of redeeming qualities.

Very Good (2.5 stars)
In Filipino and Tagalog with subtitles.
Running time: 85 minutes
Studio: Regent Releasing

To see a trailer for Serbis, visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ksnh9k1MG9g

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