Camp Sawi is just the first Pinoy film since Heneral Luna that I’ve watched and reviewed. Actually, I watched this movie a week ago, but it was such a bummer that I wasn’t interested of writing about it in the first place. But then again, ever since I started last year of writing brief reviews about every recent movie (and TV show) that I’ve been able to watch, I’ve yet to skip one, regardless of quality – even when it’s annoyingly pretentious, utterly atrocious, mind-numbingly stupid, or tortuously bland. Besides, though this movie bored me out of my mind, it’s still not the worst movie I’ve seen this year so far – that would be Zoolander 2 or Allegiant. So I probably shouldn’t break the streak now. Here goes...
The movie tells the story of a group of heartbroken women (and one gay man) who go on a peculiar vacation getaway by staying in “Camp Sawi”, a boot camp/resort that could help them heal and move on.
Each woman’s heartbreak is unique. Bella Padilla’s character is left for another girl by her long-time boyfriend due to her not being Chinese. Yassi Pressman’s character discovers that her boyfriend is gay. Arci Muñoz’s character is a drunken rocker who gets dumped by her bassist/boyfriend via a mean breakup song. Andi Eigenmann’s character, a mistress, is being troubled by her conscience. There’s also this catatonic lady whose fiancé gets tragically killed by a runaway car, moments after proposing to her. And then there’s this obese lady – a stereotypical butt-of-jokes fat character – who is dumped by her equally fat boyfriend just because he has started going to the gym, has lost ten pounds, and now thinks she’s too fat for him.
That seems to be a fun and attractive ensemble. Unfortunately, the movie that they’re operating in is poorly thought of, horrendously paced, severely underwhelming, and distractingly disjointed. The flow of the movie feels like a compilation of cheesy, inorganic scenes. The jokes have potential, could even be clever, but the execution is generally flat. Payoffs are non-existent.
But the most infuriating thing about this movie is Sam Milby’s character, Camp Sawi’s camp master. He’s supposed to be the one that would bring about the healing for these girls. Thus, in my opinion, the success of the plot development is substantially hinged on him. However, the character lacks personality. By that, I don’t mean physically – Sam Milby is a hunky guy – but the character “lacks personality” because he’s so under-realized… so random. His motivations and background are unexplored. He never really contributed anything remotely profound; in the end, if you think about it, his presence was unnecessary. He acts like a charismatic, “zen” kind of guy, but with no well-rounded characterization behind it, he essentially comes off as pretentious. And by extension, the entire plot comes off as pretentious.
Look, I’m not a big fan of mainstream Filipino movies. They’re generally dumb, overly melodramatic, cheesy, lazy, boring, and too formulaic. I could enjoy them sometimes when I treat them in a “so bad, it’s good” perspective, finding amusement in how hilariously bad they are (that’s why I tend to prefer watching old iconic Filipino movies; they have nostalgia going for them, and with them, I knew what I would be getting).
So why did I then proceed to watch Camp Sawi in the first place? Well, it was a holiday, and it was one of those times where, you know, there was “nothing else to do to pass the time” and, also, “watching it, not for the sake of the movie itself, but for the companionship of whom you watch it with.” Also, there are some instances when mainstream Filipino films can be competent – even genuinely enjoyable, clever, and imaginative. Case in point: Starting Over Again was a surprisingly fun Filipino movie watching experience for me. And I was hoping Camp Sawi would turn out being another Staring Over Again experience.
Unfortunately, that wouldn’t be the case.
- For the record, how I would love for exciting, thoughtful, clever, well-made Filipino movies and TV series to be the staple.
- You want a comedy-done-right about someone trying to get over a heartbreak by going on a vacation? Try Forgetting Sarah Marshall.