The Flip Side

Okay, so the movie is called "The Flip Side," it is an independent feature, and the posters have a shirtless guy in what looks like a pose. Hm, another movie with gay themes? Not quite. "Flip" refers to a (sometime derogatory) term for Filipino, and the movie is about the experience of second generation Filipino-Americans. This would seem original, but there have already been two movies about the same thing, The Debut and American Adobo. In fact, The Flip Side and The Debut have a lot in common which is bad for this film. Yes it is black and white and totally independent (low-budget). This is not a bad thing. The script is terrible and the acting amateurish, especially in comparison to The Debut. The main thematic difference is that although they are both about cultural identity, The Debut was also about parental expectations in relation to cultural identity (like American Chai, and An American Rhapsody, two movies that dealt with other cultures).

Writer/director Rod Pulido took a potentially fascinating subject and turned it into an amateurish sitcom. What exactly defines Filipino-American? Or, is there even a set definition? For the Delacruz family, there are three distinctly different definitions, one for each child. Darius (Verwin GatPandan) just finished his first year of college, where he found his first exposure to Filipino history. Now, he is a militant Filipino-American. He wants to learn Tagalog, he adorns his rooms with cultural artifacts, and dresses in traditional dress (or lack thereof). Older sister Marivic (Ronalee Par) is doing what she can to assimilate into the Caucasian culture. She tells her new boyfriend Curt (Dave Brown, The Substitute, Wild Berry) that she is Hawaiian, and he knows no better. Youngest brother Davis (Jose Saenz) is enamored with the African-American culture, so much so that he dresses and speaks as if he were black. The Marivic character seems like an afterthought, since there is little development there aside from a lame gimmick near the end. Darius and Davis are so extreme that they become caricatures. There no in-between ground at all, it is all or nothing.

Taking this, Pulido does nothing with it. He comes up with some unexciting plots; Davis wants to dunk, and Darius is doing pretty much nothing. They have parents, but those characters are so thin they really contribute nothing to the plot. There is a nice story about Darius' grandfather (Peping Baclig) and his desire to return to the Philippines, but it's mixed in with some dumb story about clandestine trips for lottery tickets. The acting is the most off-putting element about The Flip Side. GatPandan and Par in particular stand out. Par's Marivic is a shrill character, often yelling. Pulido favors close shots of the face, and Par exaggerates facial motions and sounds stilted. She is much better than GatPandan, who seems to believe that acting means moving one's eyebrows and eyes. He constantly looks bored, and sounds like he is reading lines for the first time. It really wears on the viewer when he is the integral role in the movie and is on screen for so long. He is also so militant that it is off-putting. Third time is not the charm for Filipino-American movies.

Mongoose Rates It: Pretty Bad.
1 hour, 20 minutes, Black and white, Not Rated but contains language, an easy R.

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