Some stories are better left untold. By itself, Four Sisters and a Wedding had been established as a staple in the Philippine entertainment industry, from the meme-worthy lines, the sisters themselves, and the familiar theme of family ties. Regardless of its formulaic and predictable premise, the film managed to balance light-hearted humor with a touch of family drama in a way that feels authentic and endearing. It’s no wonder why fans (including myself) were looking forward to a sequel, even years later. Unfortunately, Four Sisters Before the Wedding was unable to add anything valuable to the eponymous sisters’ narrative; in essence, it is nothing but a shell of its predecessor.
At present, the Salazar sisters—Teddie, Bobbie, Alex, and Gabbie—convene via an online meeting to discuss CJ, their youngest brother’s marital woes. As soon as sentiments were exchanged, they started reminiscing about their past, setting up their story from years ago. In strikingly similar fashion to the first film, we open to the young sisters as they alternately chat with CJ on the phone, bickering about his latest romantic pursuit. Soon after, we are introduced to the sisters’ own love interests, in true Filipino rom-com fashion: via cheesy slow motion. The depiction of their own family issues was blatantly mediocre; dealt with flippantly and presented almost recklessly. The film excessively relies on slapstick humor and a gratuitous scapegoat to present the illusion of heavy family drama. Unfortunately, its hollow attempt to fuse different elements together—such as the sisters’ individual love stories, an almost frivolous internal family conflict, and the attempt to recreate the original film’s charm down to its structure—led to its downfall. In a lot of ways, Four Sisters Before the Wedding missed several opportunities, the most notable one being a more perceptive look at the titular sisters.
Undoubtedly, the sisters take center stage in the two films, and for good reason: their distinctive roles and personalities remind us of ourselves, or at least, someone we know. Who can deny the fact that every Filipino family has its own Teddie—someone who, in her role as the eldest, has the tacit responsibility of being her parents’ right-hand man while inadvertently becoming her siblings’ leader and spokesperson? Or even Bobbie—smart and successful in every way, but acts aloof due to being unfairly stereotyped and underappreciated? Truly, there are numerous interesting ways the sequel could have explored the dynamics between the sisters and their family. However, the film chose a more convenient route of simply filling in the gaps set by the first film. In that sense, Four Sisters Before the Wedding only served to imitate its predecessor, without bothering to offer a thoughtful justification on why the characters are who they are.
As soon as you hear Teddie’s familiar lines, it seems adorable; you start to reminisce about her adult counterpart. But soon it starts to feel old and tiresome. From the beginning, the resemblance between the original is unmistakable: the sisters bicker about CJ’s latest love interest, then later on they attempt to expose a dirty little secret—done in cheesy undercover style—before finding closure and resolution in the form of a wedding. It was disappointing to see, especially since the first film put so much emphasis on what happened before, blaming their past as the cause of their strife, especially Bobbie and Alex. Now that we’ve finally seen the source of all their adult selves’ drama, it almost seems petty and insignificant, without any gravitas. What could potentially have been a heartwarming and thoughtful peek into the sisters’ past became almost annoyingly trite and repetitive.
Furthermore, the addition of love interests for each sister brought unnecessary fluff to an already cliché and dissatisfying premise. Essentially, it took away the opportunity for the actors to individually shine without being dependent on kilig teenage tropes, save for Charlie Dizon, who played Teddie. The promising young actress was able to effectively capture the essence of her character in her own way—loud, outspoken, and a little rough around the edges – without compromising her role as the eldest.
Set against the backdrop of a society that cares deeply about family values and traditions, Four Sisters Before the Wedding is unremarkable. Was it necessary? Hardly. But the endless possibilities it presented was regrettably underutilized or otherwise completely ignored. On the contrary, if teeny bopper kilig, slapstick comedy, and lightweight family drama is your cup of tea, then this film is for you.
Four Sisters Before the Wedding is now streaming on Netflix.