The Entitled is a cringe-worthy sophomoric comedy.
This review of the Netflix film The Entitled (2022) does not contain spoilers.
I am not sure of the inspiration behind The Entitled. The Filipino language film (Tagalog was the official language of the Philippines until 1987, even though a large population in the culture still refers to this title) made its Netflix debut this week after a brief theatrical run in its home country on June 8th. You may expect this type of comedy adapted in Hollywood with a certain kind of actor, like Adam Sandler or, more accurately, an Anna Farris type. The kind that takes someone without social graces and places them in a world that revolves around proper manners. (This usually translates to characters written as uptight). My issue with Netflix’s The Entitled is not with the sophomoric genre of choice, it’s the cartoonish and excessive amount in a film so clumsily put together.
YouTube sensation Alex Gonzaga plays Belinda, a young woman who has been estranged from her father. Belinda is awkward and full of consternation (and, for that matter, constipation). She reunites with her good old dad, Enrico (Wildflower’s Johnny Revilla), when his attorney Jacob (One Great Love’s JC De Vera) brings her back home. Enrico is a hotel magnate. He also happens to be incredibly wealthy. He now has a family with a younger woman named Matilda (Ang probinsyano’s Ara Mina). They are raising a daughter of their own, Caitlyn (Andrea Abaya). She does not take kindly to a new family member in the house. Soon, Belinda is asked by her father to be an apprentice and train to be a vice president in his company, and shenanigans ensue.
Written by Gonzaga, director Theodore Boborol, and scribe Noreen Capili, The Entitled is a fish-out-of-water story. The tropes that come along with that are effects of the family and business dynamic, where the family must adjust, and the trope of how the newcomer strengthens the family bond. These types of movies need to evolve into a winning formula and a lot of heart to work. The problem is that it is a cringe-comedy that wants to have its flatulence humor and not eat it too. Boborol tries to force down your throat a heartfelt narrative that is not earned.
The Entitled does have its moments. It is refreshing to see Gonzaga play a woman with such ill-mannered yet naive behavior. There is zero elegance to her character: extraordinarily little tact or decorum. Virtually has no social etiquette and lacks any sense of good manners. When she does find that touch of grace, courtesy of a makeover from Matilda, she has quite the effect on Jacob. Then, suddenly, which she frequently does in the film, she begins to scratch her crotch like your friendly neighborhood plumber. I am not going to lie. A certain charm to her performance reminds you of Buddy’s innocence from Elf. Even some bad manners from Willie in Bad Santa. Yet, this is not a holiday movie, so the John Goodman from King Ralph type? Probably not, but I just wanted to use that forgotten film in a reference.
This could have been an unmitigated disaster if it were not for Gonzaga. Also, a hilarious supporting turn by Melai Cantiveros, who plays the house cleaner and Belinda’s assistant. There is some truly awful acting here, including several scenes with extras reacting to Belinda’s social inadequacies that are embarrassingly bad. The overall story is kind of dumb, introducing Belinda to the board without any real work or effort to earn such a promotion. The script begins in a way that starts without explanation, which is confusing.
I will say, I admire how brave it is for a beautiful young actor to play a character that is anything but a princess and can be unappealing at times. (Yes, guys, women can fart and have stomach issues too). You also must admire a comedy where a female outcast is the one to get the guy, instead of the other way around. Look at the film with the appropriate cultural lens.
You will see themes in Filipino cinema like individualism, the inequality of power, and distance. Perhaps, the most important is anxiety. (You will notice when Belinda is nervous her gastrointestinal tract flares up). These are all positives, yet The Entitled unsuccessfully forces multiple genres together like puzzle pieces that do not fit.
The viewer is entitled to something better.
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