Starring: Sue Ramirez, Jameson Blake, Markus Paterson
Director: Jun Robles Lana
Running Time: 110 mins
The Girl Allergic To WiFi (Ang babaeng allergic sa WiFi) is a Filipino film about a girl who, after discovering an allergy that reacts to the presence of WiFi, moves out to the countryside to recover, along with two of her friends. However, as she struggles to adapt to life off the grid, a friend of hers is pushing hard to make his move.
Styling itself as an offbeat, quirky teen comedy, The Girl Allergic To WiFi offers up the promise of some cute and likable fun, alongside a strange but still genuine story. The film does ultimately prove to be a fairly likable and cute watch, with its offbeat humour working well throughout, but it unfortunately struggles to break out of a more generic teen romance story, and one that proves more frustrating to watch than in any way emotionally captivating.
But let’s start on the bright side, with the film’s quirkier side. As the title may suggest, The Girl Allergic To WiFi takes on what you might call a fairly unorthodox scenario, but rather than being gratuitously silly or comedic about the WiFi allergy, this film actually presents it in an impressively down-to-earth, convincing manner, which makes it a whole lot simpler to empathise with the characters’ problems.
Couple that with a brand of fairly offbeat humour that surrounds the core story, and you have a pretty likable, free-flowing comedy movie, following a trio of what seem like outsiders as they take a break from the world of the internet and social media to enjoy life in the outdoors, something that reminded me quite a bit of the equally likable offbeat comedy Garden State.
Now, the film also focuses on the troubles of social media and the perils of the internet in the modern day, and as true as its main ideas on that subject may be, they don’t really play on your mind throughout the movie, as the screenplay fails to link wider social concerns about the internet into its own story, with the lives of the main characters playing out pretty independently from those issues for the most part.
Anyway, The Girl Allergic To WiFi still has enough likability and quirky charm to make it an enjoyable watch, and as a Filipino version of Garden State, I think it does a very good job throughout. However, the one area where it really falls by the wayside is when it comes to its emotional drama.
Because rather than simply being about a girl who is allergic to WiFi, the movie focuses mainly on a friend of hers who has a crush on her. Inevitably, typical high school romantic drama ensues, but where that story falls apart is in the film’s inability to avoid melodrama, too often straying into unnecessary dead ends of predictable and over-the-top drama and conflict that just feels out of place in what is generally a more likable, down-to-earth movie.
My ability to sympathise with the struggles of the character with a crush were shattered by his often impulsive and rather stupid behaviour at times, taking away from the main emotional core of the movie, and as such leaving what ultimately becomes its main focus a rather underwhelming and even annoying bugbear.
Overall, then, I did like The Girl Allergic To WiFi, thanks to its quirky, offbeat humour and likable atmosphere, but it unfortunately fails to live up to its potential with a frustrating story, annoying melodrama and an inability to bring its more complex themes and ideas into play with its main plot, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.1.