San Diego Filipino Film Festival 2023 Is A Celebration Of Filipino Identity and Storytelling Excellence

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Filipino craft gone global.

This October, the San Diego Filipino Film Festival is bringing together Filipino visions, voices, and stories on the big screen in a grand celebration of Filipino filmmaking and artistry.

Related: This Filipino Movie About Real-life Catfishing is Making Waves in International Film Festivals

Mainland and diaspora Filipinos of the internet, let’s all step away from the identity discourse for a second and acknowledge the excellence that’s radiating all over the globe—Filipino filmmaking and artistry. While we all know it’s important to acknowledge the issues and discussions involving culture, history, and identity—issues and discussions that often cause heated debate on social media—we have room to highlight and recognize initiatives that can bring us together to celebrate our fellow people and their craft.

One such initiative is the San Diego Filipino Film Festival, organized by San Diego Filipino Cinema, an organization that gives platforms to Filipino filmmakers to share their work with the diverse communities in San Diego, California. Held during Filipino American History Month, the SDFFF is the organization’s “centerpiece event that aims to raise awareness for Filipino cinema as an important art form and a powerful tool for representation, education, and entertainment.”

San Diego Filipino Film Festival 2023 main poster

Instagram/sdfilipinocinema

From October 3 to 8, over one hundred films spanning a variety of genres, lengths, and stories will be featured in the festival. Not just that, but there will be awards, as well as panels and Q&As with established and emerging filmmakers to discuss the present and future of Filipino cinema and cultivate a love for the art of filmmaking.

DIVERSITY, CULTURE, AND HERITAGE THROUGH NARRATIVES

The San Diego Filipino Film Festival endeavors to highlight Filipino artists and show their craft on a global level. After a successful festival in 2022, Executive Director and Cofounder of San Diego Filipino Cinema Benito Bautista says, “We continue to uphold and focus on our mission to strengthen our representation through film and to nurture Filipino stories and storytellers through our platform.”

Featured films at the festival include Nurse Unseen, a documentary about the history and humanity behind Filipino nurses becoming the backbone of the United States health industry as well as pandemic frontliners; Searching For Kapwa, an exploration of diasporic culture and identity; Pagbalik (The Return), a daughter’s tribute to her mother, the late “Queen of Visayan Movies” Gloria Sevilla; and the debut of rom-com Asian Persuasion starring Paolo Montalban, Dante Basco, and KC Concepcion; Delia & Sammy starring Rosemarie Gil and Jaime Fabregas, Nanahimik Ang Gabi (A Silent Night) starring Ian Veneracion, Heaven Peralejo, and Mon Confiado, and more.

Interspersed with the narrative features are Shorts Programs, showings of short films by talented young artists. The Shorts Programs are curated into 7 themes: Divergent Tales, Outside the Box, Finding Elsewhere, Connect the Dots, Larger Than Life, Scenes From Home, and DIASPORA.

The full schedule of showings and events can be found here.

VISIONS & VOICES

San Diego Filipino Film Festival 2023 Visions and Voices panel poster

Instagram/sdfilipinocinema

The festival not just seeks to showcase movies. Through their events, talks, and the very curation of the stories they want to highlight, the San Diego Filipino Film Festival delves into the issues faced by Filipinos and Filipino-Americans involving representation, oppression, racial and cultural discrimination, colonization, and a search for identity, among others. The stories told, celebrated, and discussed at SDFFF bring forth a desire to find, understand, or change filmmakers’—and by extension Filipinos’—positions in the world.

To go more in-depth into these desires and perspectives, the Visions & Voices segment of the festival, titled Emerging Voices in Filipino Cinema: My First Feature, will feature emerging Filipino filmmakers new to navigating the craft. The panel of filmmakers will talk about their craft, their dreams and aspirations, their process as artists, and their struggles and fulfillments.

Aside from the featured films’ directors and emerging filmmakers, other Filipino filmmakers present at the festival include Isabel Sandoval, Irene Soriano, and Eileen Cabiling.

In this grand display of Filipino cinema gone global, SDFFF seeks to dive deep into Filipino and Filipino-American culture and identity all while amplifying Filipino visions, voices, and stories.

Continue Reading: Two Filipino Movies About Mothers Are Making a Splash at TIFF 2023

How You Can Watch Award-Winning Filipino Films For As Low As ₱50 This September

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For the love of Filipino films.

Watch any of Sine Singkwenta’s showings of award-winning films for only ₱50 this September, or watch beloved Filipino comedy films for free with Sine Halakhak!

Related: What the Success of Rookie Means for Samantha Lee and Pat Tingjuy

This September, celebrate Philippine Film Industry Month and Philippine Creative Industries Month by partaking in Sine Singkwenta and Sine Halakhak, the Film Development Council of the Philippines’ grand showcase of Asian and Filipino film excellence. And the best part is that you don’t need to break the bank to do so.

Watch six films from the Philippines, South Korea, and Japan for only ₱50 from September 11 to 17 at cinemas in SM Southmall, TriNoma, and Robinsons Galleria. Or, watch comedies for free at Cinematheque Centres nationwide!

A STACKED LINEUP

Sine Singkwenta features 6 acclaimed films spanning different genres. Filipino crime thriller films Honor Thy Father (2015) and On the Job (2013), and independent dramas Respeto (2017) and John Denver Trending (2019) front the lineup, along with South Korean blockbuster Train to Busan (2016) and Japanese animated fantasy romance Your Name/Kimi No Na Wa (2016).

These lauded films have everything, from heart-racing action to heartbreaking emotion.

Honor Thy Father won five awards at the 41st Metro Manila Film Festival in 2015, On the Job won six FAMAS awards at the 62nd Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences Awards in 2014, Respeto won five awards at the 13th Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival in 2017, and John Denver Trending won all of its six nominations at the 15th Cinemalaya Film Festival in 2019. Clearly, it’s worth it to experience these exemplars of Filipino filmmaking on the big screen. And at only ₱50? It’s a steal.

CELEBRATING LOCAL CINEMA

As digital and streaming rose in popularity over the pandemic, the Sine Singkwenta Initiative is a celebration of local cinema and the communities formed within theaters. It’s FDCP’s initiative to “encourage Filipino viewers to go back to the cinemas and enjoy once more the communal experience of watching a film on the silver screen, along with other moviegoer[s].”

There truly is no other experience like watching a movie in a theater with other people. The ambiance, the social aspect of it, the science and artistry behind it, and of course the snacks are just a few reasons why cinemas are are such a benchmark of culture.

BUT WAIT…THERE’S MORE!

Sine Singkwenta isn’t the only initiative by that makes cinema accessible to Filipinos this month! In line with the Philippine Film Industry Month’s theme of “Tuloy Pa Rin ang Tawanan,” celebrating the cinema of comedy, the FDCP launched Sine Halakhak, where beloved Pinoy comedy films are screened for free at Cinematheque Centres nationwide from September 6 to 28. From Praybeyt Benjamin (2011) to Yaya and Angelina: The Spoiled Brat Movie (2009), these comedy films are guaranteed to give you hours of fun.

Given that many local films are unavailable online or not as easily accessible as, say, international productions, these initiatives and endeavor to promote local movies and cinema and foster greater appreciation for the rich art and filmmaking culture we have as Filipinos.

So what are you waiting for? Head on over to SM Southmall, TriNoma, Robinsons Galleria, or a Cinematheque Centre near you and settle in—you’re in for a treat.

Continue Reading: The Joys of a Solo Movie Date (And Why There’s Nothing Wrong About It)

13 Coming-Of-Age Films To Watch On A Rainy Day

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Growing up means curling up under a blanket and binge-watching movies.

Explore love, friendship, and growing pains in these 13 coming-of-age films from both local and international producers.

Related: Breakup Blues: 12 Movies to Help You Move On

Coming-of-age is a special genre that marries all the craziness of youth with the melancholy of growing up. Movies in the genre make us laugh, cry, hurt, and realize a few things about life and ourselves. Both local and international productions capture the essence of youth in a myriad of ways, and hopefully you’ll find something special to love in the list of coming-of-age films that are perfect to watch on a rainy day below.

CLEANERS (2019)

This highly-stylized anthology film directed by Glenn Barit revolves around the stories of a group of students who were designated classroom “cleaners” in the 2000s. Produced with authentic performances from actual students from Tuguegarao in their first acting roles, a killer soundtrack and aesthetic, an exploration of themes surrounding “cleanliness”, and a genuine desire to tell the stories of the youth, Cleaners offers a raw, unique look at the Catholic high school experience and was easily said to be one of the greatest films of 2019.

THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER (2012)

No coming-of-age film watchlist is complete without this drama based on Stephen Chbosky’s 1999 novel. Perks follows the life of kind, timid Charlie struggling with mental health issues and finding his way in the world with his newfound friends. It may now be cliché defining moment in the Tumblr era, but the film’s depth, performances, and quote-worthy dialogue make it a must to watch.

DEATH OF NINTENDO (2020)

A trip to the 90s and all the shenanigans and troubles of leaving a childhood behind adds up to a funny, charming jaunt in Death of Nintendo. As four friends on the cusp of childhood and adolescence navigate their firsts—first loves, first heartbreak, first time truly understanding their realities and relationships—they experience firsthand how growing up could be as earthshaking as an erupting volcano.

LADY BIRD (2017)

Greta Gerwig’s successful drama about the complex relationship between a mother and a daughter is a coming-of-age masterpiece about girlhood, family, belonging, and growing up. Well-written, emotional, funny, and presenting an honest, relevant story, Lady Bird is one of those films that stick with you forever.

BOOKSMART (2019)

Smart, overachiever best friends Amy and Molly try to make the most of their senior year after realizing that they might have wasted their entire high school life. They embark on an outrageous night of partying, romance, and drama as one last hurrah. Fast, witty, and wild, Booksmart is a fun take on high school stereotypes and growing up.

DEAD POETS SOCIETY (1989)

O Captain! My Captain! This heart-wrenching tale about a group of boys at an all-male boarding school and their new, unorthodox teacher is a classic drama film beloved by multiple generations. The boys learn all about freedom and love in its many forms, and it’s nothing short of beautiful and emotional.

TOY STORY 3 (2010)

No, this one isn’t lost from another movie list. Toy Story 3 is a coming-of-age not just because Andy has to let go of his toys, but because every character’s life is being upended by the realities of growing up and they have to accept the changes as they come. Also, there is no way to not cry at the end of this film.

ANG NAWAWALA (2012)

This Cinemalaya 2012 Audience Choice-winning film follows a selectively-mute Gibson as he returns to his hometown for the holidays, a time wherein his family is reminded of a tragedy that occurred years prior. Set against the local music scene, Ang Nawawala sees Gibson reconnect with old friends, fall for a free-spirit, and navigate a life after loss.

LOVE, SIMON (2018)

Coming-of-age…coming out…there’s a correlation there, of course. The closeted Simon Spier exchanges messages with a mysterious boy named Blue and is blackmailed into helping set up a classmate with his friend. He faces all sorts of trouble such as the possibility of being outed, initially-unsupportive friends, and the terrifying ordeal of being known in this rom-com all about teenhood, love, and acceptance.

I’M DRUNK, I LOVE YOU (2017)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aSmY-_mFiNA

Love and coming into adulthood by facing what lies ahead are intertwined in this film about two college best friends going on a road trip days before their graduation to finally settle whatever feelings they have between them. Expect booze, music, bad decisions, partying, and a whole heaping of rom-com cheesiness.

NAGBIBINATA (1998)

Starring fresh-faced kids who would eventually become showbiz icons, Nagbibinata presents the challenges and pressures felt by a barkada of boys in all their reckless, naive glory. Exploring everything from family drama to budding romances, this film is a major throwback, and yet all the issues of adolescence hold up to this day.

MARIE ANTOINETTE (2006)

Sofia Coppola’s modern reimagining of the life of ill-fated French Queen Marie Antoinette follows her betrothal, engagement, and life as a young queen breathes new life into the young monarch’s story. A fun, modern, and stylized period piece that subverts the expectations of a movie revolving around the time period, this film, while set against an extravagant backdrop, is truly all about the trials and tribulations of being a young woman.

SENIOR YEAR (2010)

Grades, identity, relationships, homework, family, expectations, future plans…Senior Year ticks all the boxes of high school as it explores the lives of ten students on their last year before their lives change forever. Based on real experiences by the cast of students, the film is a snapshot of one of the most significant eras of a person’s life.

Continue Reading: 8 Rom-Coms With Less Than 50% on Rotten Tomatoes That You Should Definitely Watch

15 Underrated Local and International Animated Movies That Deserve A Watch

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Hit play and be transported to different worlds.

There is an animated movie for everyone, and hopefully you find yours here!

Related: 8 Underrated Filipino Animated Movies and TV Shows That Deserve More Attention

Animation is a classic and versatile way to tell stories. From media by Disney to Dreamworks, Pixar to Ghibli, Laika to Rocketsheep, animation has evolved and diversified, ensuring at least one animated media makes it to people’s lists of favorites.

These movies below include cult classics, local productions, and less-popular works created with plenty of heart. Regardless of their commercial and critical status, these films are not The Incredibles or Shrek or even The Emperor’s New Groove. Yet, they are movies that are still deserving of a watch as they tackle and feature a diverse range of narratives, stories, tales, characters and more. Get that watchlist ready for these animated movies that you shouldn’t sleep on.

THE PRINCE OF EGYPT (1998)

This stunning animated film based on the story of Moses and the Book of Exodus is widely acclaimed, but it’s surprising how many people haven’t seen it. Released in 1998, the film’s animation, storyline, and gorgeous music hold up incredibly well over the decades.

TREASURE PLANET (2002)

Another cult classic, Treasure Planet is an inventive, anachronistic tale that puts a sci-fi twist on Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel Treasure Island. Following the journey of young Jim Hawkins and the suspicious crew of the RLS Legacy looking for the fabled planet on which space pirate Captain Flint hid his treasure, Treasure Planet is a fun, sweeping adventure wrapped in genius creative decisions.

THE IRON GIANT (1999)

The Iron Giant is a 1950s-set film about an alien Giant robot who crash-lands on Earth and is found by brave and intelligent 9-year-old Hogarth. Hogarth attempts to hide the Giant from the US government and eventually befriends the kind and curious robot. An emotional tale of self-determination and humanity, The Iron Giant cannot be watched without tissues nearby.

HAYOP KA! THE NIMFA DIMAANO STORY (2020)

Hayop Ka! takes classic Filipino teleserye tropes and brings them to life in an adult, animated, anthropomorphic way. This film, set in a Philippines where everyone is an animal, follows saleslady Nimfa Dimaano who grapples with her feelings for two men: her janitor boyfriend Roger, and rich entrepreneur Iñigo. Bold, mature, and comical, Hayop Ka! found success as the first locally-produced animated film to be distributed by Netflix.

MEET THE ROBINSONS (2007)

A childhood favorite, Meet the Robinsons follows genius inventor and orphan Lewis as he’s brought back in time by a teenager named Wilbur who asks him to fix a time machine. It’s a charming story of time travel, family, dreams, and the value of letting go of (and learning from) the past and moving forward to shape your own future.

SAVING SALLY (2016)

Saving Sally is a unique mix of live-action and animation, as well as romance, drama, and comedy. Marty, an amateur comic artist who sees the world in exaggerated comic pictures, is in love with his best friend Sally, a genius inventor with problems in her personal life and a boyfriend that Marty hates. Saving Sally is classic love story told in an extraordinary way.

ATLANTIS: THE LOST EMPIRE (2001)

We can bet you’ve seen more people in costumes inspired by the characters in this movie than people you know who actually watched it. Atlantis: The Lost Empire is based on the many stories of the sunken city, and follows linguist and cartographer Milo Thatch as he embarks on an expedition to find it. Joined by a ragtag crew, he meets Kida, princess of Atlantis who wants the city to regain its former glory.

WHEN MARNIE WAS THERE (2014)

This magnificent fantasy drama piece is heart-wrenching, mildly perplexing, and beautiful in all the ways a Studio Ghibli film is. Anna, a young orphan girl, is sent by her foster parents to live in a rural town for the summer and finds a connection with a mysterious young girl named Marnie. In a tale about loneliness, forgiveness, and love through time, Anna discovers the truth about herself and her family.

DAYO: SA MUNDO NG ELEMENTALIA (2008)

One of the Philippines’ first all-digital animated full-length feature films, Dayo takes from our rich repertoire of folklore to tell the story of Bubuy, a young boy who embarks on a journey to the magical land of Elementalia to save his grandparents. He encounters creatures from Philippine legends such as a young manananggal who accompanies him on his journey, a tikbalang, and pair of tiyanak.

OCEAN WAVES (1993)

In slice-of-life Ocean Waves, the lives and relationship of best friends Taku and Yutaka changes when they meet a smart but seemingly troubled girl Rikako. Nostalgic, dramatic, and with an air of days-gone-by, this Studio Ghibli movie is about love, friendship, the past, and growing up.

THE ROAD TO EL DORADO (2000)

Conmen Miguel and Tulio try to find the legendary City of Gold and get tangled up in a slew of shenanigans in this adventure comedy. Imprisoned, mistaken for gods, discovered as con artists, among other things, the two friends end up reexamining their goals and relying on each other to try and find their place in El Dorado.

ANASTASIA (1997)

A fictionalized retelling of the legend of Anastasia Romanov, this animated fantasy-musical drama film is dazzling and magical. Anastasia boasts a formidable lead, charming performances, and emotional payoffs. Its story, relationships, and animation of glittering jewels and opulence stick to you, as well as a lingering curiosity about the fate of the real Anastasia.

URDUJA (2008)

Another of the early animated Filipino films, Urduja also draws on local legend. Our own tale of Princess Urduja of the Tawilisi tribe (based on local Pangasinan legend) chronicles the warrior-princess’s struggle with love and duty to her tribe. When she meets a charming Chinese pirate and falls in love, to the distaste of her chieftain father and betrothed fiancé, she must face the adversities that come her way.

MONSTER HOUSE (2006)

Perfect for Halloween or a random Thursday afternoon, Monster House is a comedic but also terrifying animated horror film. It’s about a creepy house across the street from 12-year-old DJ, owned by the irascible, elderly Horace Nebbercracker. DJ is on a mission to find out what’s truly going on in that house and finds himself in a lot more trouble than he expected.

I WANT TO EAT YOUR PANCREAS (2018)

The “falling in love with someone who’s dying” trope has been done to, well, death. But that doesn’t mean it no longer works. This Japanese coming-of-age drama about a boy who meets a girl with a terminal illness is equal parts beautiful and scarring as well as charming and heartbreaking.

Whether you want a good laugh or cry, a feel-good movie or an emotional drama, animation has got your back. Gone are the days where it’s construed as a form of comedic media for children, and the wide array of stories told through this art form proves exactly that.

Continue Reading: Breaking Down New Filipino Animated Movie, Hayop Ka! The Nimfa Dimaano Story

Breakup Blues: 12 Movies To Help You Move On

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You got this.

Good films to keep you company as you navigate this change in your life.

Related: 8 Rom-Coms With Less Than 50% On Rotten Tomatoes That You Should Definitely Watch

Breakups are tough. But surround yourself with good friends and open yourself up to a good time with this mix of movies, and hopefully you’ll get through it safe and sound.

SOMEONE GREAT (2019)

The raw pain of a fresh breakup and the power of female friendships take center stage in this reverse rom-com starring Gina Rodriguez as Jenny, Brittany Snow as Blair, and DeWanda Wise as Erin. Jenny, fresh from a breakup with longtime boyfriend Nate (Lakeith Stanfield), embarks on one last hurrah with her girlfriends before she leaves for a job across the country while navigating a life without whom she thought was the love of her life. The film is honest and hilarious, and cathartic to watch.

BEGIN AGAIN (2013)

Gretta (Keira Knightley) is a singer-songwriter who recently broke up with longtime partner, successful musician Dave (Adam Levine), after he admitted to cheating on her with an assistant. As she performs at a bar, recently-fired music producer Dan (Mark Ruffalo) sees potential in a partnership, and they begin production on her solo album as they work through problems in their own personal lives. With charming performances and a beautiful soundtrack, Begin Again will hopefully inspire you to do exactly what its title suggests.

LOVE AND MONSTERS (2020)

This is not your typical watch after a breakup, but Love and Monsters is a fantastical monster adventure with themes of companionship, family, and of course, love. Dylan O’Brien stars as Joel, a survivor of the monster apocalypse, who embarks on a journey to reconnect with Aimee (Jessica Henwick), his girlfriend he was separated from seven years ago. Fun, thrilling, and original, Love and Monsters will keep you entertained but emotional enough to process your feelings after your breakup.

HOW TO BE SINGLE (2016)

“The thing about being single is…you should cherish it.” Preach it, Dakota Johnson. In this comedy, Alice (Johnson) tries to relish her newly-single life, guided by the wild Robin (Rebel Wilson). Other relationship hijinks ensue between Lucy (Alison Brie) and Paul (Colin Jost), who break up because Paul was seeing other people thinking it was what they were doing, and a pregnant Meg (Leslie Mann) and seemingly uncommitted Ken (Jake Lacy). It’s awkward and funny and just a lighthearted watch perfect for a girls’ night.

LA LA LAND (2016)

By now we all pretty much know how La La Land ends. The musical film is an ode to classic Hollywood and a commentary on the perpetual question of love vs. dreams. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are incredible as Mia and Sebastian, and the film progresses with so much heart. Its whimsical, romantic premise gives way to the realities of life and the sacrifices we have to make to achieve our dreams. Whether you relate or not, La La Land will get you right in the feels.

DO REVENGE (2022)

Revenge never felt so good. Kind of. Do Revenge sees Drea (Camilla Mendes) and Eleanor (Maya Hawke) strike a deal to “do revenge” on each other’s enemies. Drea is the victim of a video leak allegedly done by her ex-boyfriend Max (Austin Abrams), and Eleanor is the subject of a false rumor spread about her years ago. Light, funny, and playful, this movie will hopefully lift your spirits.

TICK, TICK…BOOM! (2021)

Tick, Tick…Boom! is a movie adaptation of the musical by the same name. It follows the story of real-life musician and composer Jonathan Larson (played by Andrew Garfield) as he navigates life as a struggling artist trying to make it in the theater industry. In his obsession with a successful career, he struggles with his relationships—with his partner Susan (Alexandra Shipp), and his friends, particularly Michael (Robin de Jesus). Despite technically not a breakup movie, Tick, Tick…Boom! is a poignant and moving tribute that will make your heart soar. The musical is also currently being staged in the Philippines by 9 Works Theatrical.

THAT THING CALLED TADHANA (2014)

A journey driven by heartbreak and an unusual situation that brings two people together marks the premise of classic Filipino movie That Thing Called Tadhana. Angelica Panganiban stars as Mace, a heartbroken, traveling woman, who finds a friend and maybe something more in kind, empathetic Anthony (JM de Guzman). Filled with endless hugot, charming chemistry, and beautiful settings, this movie is an ode to moving on, new beginnings, and hope. If you’d like, embark on a similar trip that they took in the movie from Manila to Baguio to Sagada in an effort to find out where broken hearts go.

BIRDS OF PREY (2020)

A wild superhero romp starring Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn fresh from a breakup with the Joker makes for a night of action, powerful women, and colorful, crazy antics. Birds of Prey sees a team-up between an ensemble cast of vigilantes and a detective trying to stop the plans of an evil crime lord. This engaging, thrilling, female-led film filled with fun performances is the perfect distraction from wallowing.

LEGALLY BLONDE (2001)

The entire premise of Legally Blonde literally centers on a strong, independent woman who needs no man to succeed. Despite no one believing in her, Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) gets into Harvard and excels at law school with her signature pink everything and out-of-the-box thinking. A forever classic, Legally Blonde has taught us to celebrate independence and the capabilities of women.

STARTING OVER AGAIN (2014)

The adorable, hilarious, and very real Starting Over Again asks painful questions and rehashes hopes of a love lost. Starring Piolo Pascual and Toni Gonzaga as Marco and Ginny, respectively, the movie sees the two former lovers meet again long after a rough, abrupt end to their relationship. Stellar performances make for emotional and heartwrenching scenes that will get you laughing and crying all the while.

THE LAST FIVE YEARS (2014)

Told through song and a nonlinear narrative, The Last Five Years chronicles the ill-fated relationship of Cathy (Anna Kendrick) and Jamie (Jeremy Jordan) and everything they went through in the five years they were together. The Last Five Years is based on a musical, and the Philippines will actually be staging it this September and October, starring Gab Pangilinan as Cathy and Myke Salomon as Jamie. Reliving pleasures and pains is cathartic in its own right, and we hope the wonderful songs and dynamic story in this film carries you through it all.

Continue Reading: 13 Female-Directed Filipino Movies to Watch

8 Rom-Coms With Less Than 50% On Rotten Tomatoes That You Should Definitely Watch

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Bring on the popcorn.

A low critical rating on Rotten Tomatoes isn’t what makes a movie as these rom-coms make for a fun movie night—whether you want to spend the time hating or otherwise.

Related: Make Room in Your Watchlist for These New Movies and Shows of August 2023

Listen. We all have that one movie that flopped in more ways than one that we absolutely adore. Did you know that Princess Diaries 2: The Royal Engagement only has 29% on Rotten Tomatoes? Shocking, I know. Of course, movie reviews—no matter how good or bad they are—are always subjective (just like this article!). That’s why below is a list of literally underrated romantic comedies that I think are worth a watch, even if they’re certified “rotten” on the review aggregator website.

HOW TO LOSE A GUY IN 10 DAYS (2003)

I know—this is often deemed a classic. But this movie starring Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey only scored 42% on the Tomatometer (the review measuring scale on Rotten Tomatoes).

Well! While not perfect by any means, it offers a fun premise and committed performances. Andie Anderson (Hudson) is a “how-to” columnist for a women’s magazine. She gets the bright idea to act like a complete nightmare of a girlfriend for an article: How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, inspired by her friend who can’t keep a relationship. Benjamin Barry (McConaughey) is an advertising executive who made a deal with his boss that if he can make any woman fall in love with him, he gets to lead a huge ad campaign. They meet at a bar, enact their plans, and you can guess what happens next.

CHASING LIBERTY (2004)

Chasing Liberty is from 2004. So, if its 18% Tomatometer score has anything to say about it, it has cheesy 2004 problems. Anna Foster (Mandy Moore) is sick of the constant pressures and limitations bestowed upon her as the daughter of the President of the United States. One night, on a trip to Prague, she decides to escape the watchful eyes of her protection detail and asks Ben Calder (Matthew Goode) for help. He accompanies her as she makes her way through Europe to attend a music festival in Berlin, while keeping his true identity as a Secret Service agent secret from her. You can bet the reveal turns out well (spoiler, it doesn’t).

Moore is effervescent and carefree, but also whiny and terribly naive, while Goode exudes leading man charm in this made-for-a-teen-audience rom-com.

LEAP YEAR (2010)

Can you tell the writer of this article is a Matthew Goode enjoyer? In this 2010 rom-com, he plays Declan O’Callaghan, a surly, sarcastic Irish pub owner, opposite the ever-so-sweet Amy Adams as prim and proper Anna Brady. Anna’s been waiting forever for her boyfriend Jeremy (Adam Scott) to propose, so she decides to surprise him in Dublin and propose herself. She doesn’t make it there, though, and hires Declan—who needs money to keep his pub afloat—to bring her from Dingle to Dublin. The two start off as rocky as the gorgeous landscape of Ireland, and hijinks ensue.

Leap Year only has 23% on Rotten Tomatoes. A review by Tim Robey of the Daily Telegraph simply, hilariously, reads: “Poor Amy Adams.” Regardless, to this writer and definitely non-professional-movie-critic, Leap Year is sweet, funny, and boasts a lovely romance.

WHEN WE FIRST MET (2018)

Adam Devine’s Noah Ashby goes a long way to learn a great lesson in When We First Met. Noah’s been in love with Avery Martin (Alexandra Daddario) for three years, but she’s firmly put him in the friendzone and is set to marry Ethan (Robbie Amell). When he discovers a photobooth that sends him back in time to the time he and Avery first met, he tries a myriad of ways to win her over—all resulting in less-than-stellar outcomes in the future. Don’t worry—it’s fun to get mad at him for going about things the wrong way.

The film pairs classic rom-com tropes with a fantastical premise and a subversive take on the genre. At 43%, it’s not certified fresh, but it’s certainly not without its praise. Jeffrey Lyles of Lyle’s Movie Files says on Rotten Tomatoes, “While it’s predictable, the destination eventually makes the journey worthwhile and rewarding.”

MONTE CARLO (2011)

We all love a good identity theft moment. Monte Carlo, which is must-watch viewing for any Selena Gomez stan, follows graduating high school student Grace Bennett (Gomez), who looks an awful lot like the British heiress Cordelia Winthrop-Scott. On a trip to Paris, after being mistaken for the socialite, she assumes Cordelia’s identity and lives the high life with her friends Meg (Leighton Meester) and Emma (Katie Cassidy). She meets Theo Marchand (Pierre Boulanger), who knows of Cordelia’s spoiled personality, but eventually she wins him over.

At 40%, Monte Carlo is said to be “mostly silly, predictable stuff that never pushes beyond the boundaries of formula.” However, it delivers authenticity and a promise to be a great addition to a girls’ night movie watchlist.

SHE’S THE MAN (2006)

Speaking of identity theft, She’s the Man is one of the films that totally banked on the fake identity trope in the 2000s. Arguably Amanda Bynes’ most popular film role, it tells the story of high school soccer player Viola Hastings and her shenanigans. Viola, whose girls’ soccer team gets cut, assumes her twin brother Sebastian’s identity to prove her coach and her ex-boyfriend wrong for cutting the team. Viola, as Sebastian, befriends hotshot Duke (Channing Tatum) and they start to bond—but then so does Duke and Viola (as Viola). With all the secrecy and mistaken identities floating around, this movie’s sure to keep you on your toes.

Dated, ridiculous, yet enjoyable, She’s the Man is a comedic watch filled with great one-liners and awkwardness to boot.

HE’S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU (2009)

For those of you who love a hot mess, this film is a heaping pile of it. He’s Just Not That Into You, a 41% scorer, is a romance-comedy-drama that follows the lives of a stacked ensemble cast. How does a movie with Jennifer Aniston, Drew Barrymore, Jennifer Connelly, Bradley Cooper, Ginnifer Goodwin, Scarlett Johansson, Ben Affleck, Kevin Connolly, and Justin Long sound? From affairs and unwanted marriage talks to mixed signals and awkward assumptions, this movie presents relationships in all its glory as well as all its nitty gritty.

SHE’S ALL THAT (2006)

The mother of many clichés, She’s All That is a bucket list rom-com that checks off all the boxes. Quirky, spunky lead girl? Check. Popular hot guy with a hot ex-girlfriend? Check. A relationship based on a bet between bros? Check. Makeovers? Check. Jokes that won’t land today? Check. But Rachael Leigh Cook as Laney Boggs and Freddie Prinze Jr. as Zach Siler endearingly deliver wit, charm, and sincerity that will make you smile, even just a little bit.

She’s All That, despite its 41% rating, is a classic. It spawned an insane parody starring Captain America himself (Not Another Teen Movie, 2001), and a gender-swapped remake that did even worse than its predecessors (He’s All That, 2021), and probably countless more teen films over the years.

Clichéd, unfunny, bland chemistry, terrible acting—you’ve heard it all. But if you’re willing to open your mind to giving these rom-coms a chance, you’ll have a great time. (Hate-watching is also a great time). At the very least, you’ll be able to commiserate and laugh at all the reviews. And you never know—you might find a favorite worth defending.

Continue Reading: 8 Best Romcoms That Prove Fake-Dating Tropes Never Fail