TL;DR: Ganpdarrapido: The Revenger Squad throws in a couple of tweaks to Vice Ganda’s formula, but it only highlights how tired, mean & cynical this endeavor has become.
Gandarrapido: The Revenger Squad is Vice Ganda on autopilot. No amount of flashy special effects can hide that his brand of caustic, reference-heavy, insult humor has become lazy & tired. It’s unfortunate since it’s trying to say something substantial about the world we live in, but it’s hindered by the man at the center of the movie.
Meme (Vice Ganda) & Chino (Daniel Padilla) are siblings living under one roof with their friends Bul-Dog (Wack Kiray), Bok-Bok (Lassy Marquez), Luz-Luz (MC Calaquian) & a young boy named Enrique Heal (Justin Quulantang). They also have a neighbor named Peppa (Karla Estrada) who often goes inside their house & joins their antics. Meme is very strict to Chino, controlling every aspect of his life. She does have good intentions, doing it to protect her brother; who often gets himself into trouble & bounces from one job to another. However, Chino wants nothing more than to do whatever he wants without Meme’s approval.
He may just get his wish. It turns out he will gain powers on his 21st birthday, which he inherited from his evil father Madman (RK Bagatsing). It’s a secret kept by Peppa & the rest of their friends to Chito & Meme, since they used to be a group of superheroes which Meme was a part of – as the titular Gandarra – & they’ve been trying to keep a low profile after Meme suffered from amnesia, forgetting her superhero past. After recovering Meme’s past as a superhero, they will do their best to protect Chino from the likes of Kweenie (Pia Wurtzbach), a villainous woman with powers who spreads fake news in order to spread chaos & confusion among the masses.
Like The Super Parental Guardians, it’s trying to tackle important issues in our society through Vice Ganda’s glib, irreverent comedic style, but handles it so much better compared to the previous movie. This time, they’re making a stance against misinformation & its effects. While it’s not a deep exploration of how fake news ruin lives & undermine democratic societies, it’s better integrated into the plot & even has parallels with Meme, Chino, & Kweenie’s storylines. It helps that the movie has a stance against fake news, instead of flirting with the issue without saying anything meaningful.
Another aspect that makes it an improvement over The Super Parental Guardians is the improved integration action & comedy. The action scenes are well choreographed & much clearer, while the jokes act as punctuation. The production values are also top-notch for a Filipino production, full of splashy, bright colors atypical of recent superhero movies & decent special effects.
But what drags the movie towards abject mediocrity is Vice Ganda herself. He does the same shtick we’ve seen before & there are no attempts to improve or innovate upon it. It wouldn’t be a problem if the jokes are funny or have actual bite in them, but most of it are recycled riffs from his former work or references whose shelf life is already expired by the time the movie comes out; hope you like forced Baby Shark & Nyeam jokes! Some of these jokes stand out for being hateful & surprisingly homophobic; like Chino forcing two male minions to kiss, which is funny because people love to treat gays as punchlines instead of actusl human beings. Admittedly, some bits are hilarious, like a couple of fourth-wall jokes, but it’s so rare they feel like aberrations to the movie’s norm. The movie’s laziness overwhelms the movie that it counteracts whatever goodwill it has in the first place.
Gandarrapido: The Revenger Squad might’ve been made as the huge crowdpleaser of the MMFF, and they definitely succeeded, since it looks like it’s the highest grossing film of the festival. But if this is going to be a sign of things moving forward, let’s hope they’ll be willing to improve his style to stop it from being stale & uninspired. The families who flock to his movies deserve better.