A joint production by Spring Films and Korean company Film Line, Sunshine Family tells the story of the Mapalads, a family living in South Korea whose head of the family, Don (played by Noni Buencamino) becomes involved in a hit-and-run accident days before they’re set to return to the Philippines.
The matriarch Sonya (played by Shamaine Buencamino) is determined that their family goes home intact, so she moves the car to the living room and starts taking it apart. Soon, she is aided by her eldest daughter Shine (played by Sue Ramirez) who is dating a local police officer (played by BLANC7’s Shinwoo), Max (played by Marco Masa) who is starting to discover his sexual identity, and their elderly next-door neighbor (played by Han Tae Il).
A film of its own
The film diverts from the plot of the original movie. The Hit-and-Run Family used humor to satirize issues facing Japan at that time. On the other hand, Sunshine Family doesn’t shed a light on any deep issue surrounding overseas Filipino workers (OFWs). Don just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. And this is a good thing. Sometimes, we need a break from heart-wrenching stories of the Filipino experience abroad.
What Sunshine Family emphasizes, though, is how an incident brings a family closer to each other. It’s nothing groundbreaking, but the story doesn’t fall short of heart-tugging moments and laughter typical among Filipinos.
Although Sue Ramirez and Shinwoo were the main promoters of the film, it’s the Buencaminos who held the entire movie. Perhaps it’s the fact that they are a married couple in real life, coupled with the fact that they’re the most seasoned actors in the local cast, that the film is so compelling and genuine. And despite the minor screen time, Sue and Marco showed potential in acting amongst veterans. (Big props to the Filipino cast for delivering some of the lines in Korean!)
Something had to be said about the Korean cast as well. Han Tae Il is enjoyable to watch as the Mapalad’s elderly neighbor, while Park Se Jin is irritating at its best as Han Tae Il’s daughter in law and the family’s snoopy neighbor, determined to find out what the Mapalads are hiding. On the other hand, Shinwoo’s portrayal of Shine’s lovesick boyfriend is enough to draw squeals from the audience.
The beauty of Korea, with a touch of the Philippines
Local films set abroad love showcasing the beauty of the country with filler shots of famous landmarks, and Sunshine Family is no exception. Fortunately, the film feels less of a two-hour tourism video (even if it is backed by the Korean Tourism Organization), taking care to balance scenery and plot. I enjoyed the touch of Filipino culture weaved in between as well, from a neighbor eating dried mangoes to Jessa Zaragoza’s Bituing Walang Ningning playing in certain scenes.
The pace of the movie is just right. There’s barely room for filler scenes, and each plot point feels significant that I barely felt that an hour and a half has passed. It’s the ending, though, that felt rushed, and I would have wanted a better resolution.
Despite some of its flaws, Sunshine Family is a go-to family movie. It strikes the perfect balance between heartwarming and amusing, thanks largely to its stellar cast. By the end of the movie, you’ll end up hugging your family and telling them how much you appreciate them.
Sunshine Family is showing in cinemas nationwide.