‘Vince & Kath & James:’ Truly feel-good hipster movie but …

Maris Racal and Julia Barretto play best friends

Maris Racal and Julia Barretto play best friends

Cast: Julia Barretto, Joshua Garcia and Ronnie Alonte
Directed by: Theodore Boborol
Produced by: ABS-CBN Film Productions

Let’s admit, anything churned out by ABS-CBN becomes a hit. It would be a big shame if and when a movie made or distributed by Star Cinema bombs at the tills—what with its unequalled publicity and promotions, in and outside of the station.

Good thing even slapstick movies produced by the network always carry redeeming value. And what happened better in this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival is the choice of Vince & Kath & James by the selection committee over the incongruous Vice Ganda-Coco Martin starrer.

Ronnie Alonte and Joshua Garcia as cousins

Ronnie Alonte and Joshua Garcia as cousins

Truly a hipster movie that millennials can relate to, the modern romantic story centers on tomboyish Kath who wins her school’s Miss Engineering beauty pageant, schoolmate Vince who’s got a crush on her for the longest time but always teases her every time their paths cross, and varsity player James who immediately likes Kath upon seeing her on pageant night.

Texting and social media play a major part in the intertwining relationship of the three protagonists—as screenshots of SMS and chat conversations between the characters make up the development of the story. The exchanges start when Kath sends a question to her best friend Maxine but instead ends at Vince’s phone—what to do with newly-circumcised brother Kyle who’s in pain and restless. Vince’s reply proved to be effective.

Joshua Garcia

Joshua Garcia

Joshua Garcia as Vince, the geeky Electrical Engineering student who hides under his blog “DaVinciQuotes” and martyr of a cousin, is convincing in his role, though at the start of the movie it shows in his ever-smiling facial disposition how excited he is for having a major movie in a title role at that. Looking closely, Garcia has striking semblance to John Lloyd Cruz and Alden Richards, and that’s an added factor to his likeability onscreen.

Julia Barretto as Kath is pretty, commands strong presence on screen, and could well be Star Cinema’s next superstar—possibly eclipsing aunt Claudine’s once stature in the outfit. Incidentally, both Kath and Vince’s favorite movie in the story is Got 2 Believe, the Claudine Barretto-Rico Yan starrer whose dialogues they memorize by heart, and the climax of the film becomes “life imitating art” when James enters the picture spoiling the hidden happiness of the lovers-in-development.

As James, Ronnie Alonte plays his role well as a rich kid more inclined to basketball than academics. He always relies on cousin Vince to save him from all predicaments in every situation—as if it’s his way of exacting payment for debt of gratitude that his family has taken Vince to their home, sending him to the same school as he is and enjoying the luxury of privileged lifestyle.

 Julia Barretto

Julia Barretto

There’s plenty of kilig in the movie, which young girls in the audience would shriek and shout when the characters bump, clash or almost physically get comfortable or discomfortable with each other.

Based on the online romantic series Vince And Kath written by Jenny Ruth Almocera, this movie is perfect for those beginning and still trying to know how to fall in love. For those who have fallen in and out of love, the kilig moments could be reminders of how it was having your first crush who becomes your girlfriend or boyfriend.

There are no flashbacks, just references through dialogue, and Theodore Boborol successfully connects the dots together—even the scenes between Vince and his mom (Ina Raymundo).

Vince & Kath & James is a clean movie, funny at times specially with the witty hugots, but has been overrated as “A” by the Cinema Evaluation Board (CEB). Realistically, it should be “B+.” It’s a great vehicle though for the acting careers of Barretto, Garcia and Alonte.

From TV, these three are now legitimate movie box-office draws and sooner as superstars of local filmdom, especially Alonte who plays the central character in the other top-earning MMFF entry, Seklusyon.


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