Soberano plays Taffy, Lisa’s perky, well-meaning, and positive but not-too-sharp cheerleader stepsister who earnestly wants to help Lisa socially.
The verdict is in: Liza Soberano has been found guilty…of being “an ace scene stealer,” a “breakout gem,” “a revelation” in her Hollywood debut movie. Mind you, these raves aren’t from casual viewers; they’re from legit film critics in the US writing for prominent publications like Vanity Fair, USA Today, and LA Times.
The movie is Lisa Frankenstein, a ‘80s-set romance-horror-comedy-fantasy dubbed as a “coming of rage love story” between a misunderstood misfit teenager named Lisa and a reanimated corpse from the Victorian era who’s missing a few body parts (the Frankenstein of the title but actually called The Creature in the film).
Soberano plays Taffy, Lisa’s perky, well-meaning, and positive- but not-too-sharp-minded cheerleader stepsister who earnestly wants to help Lisa socially.
Ahead of the film’s US premiere, award-winning filmmaker Joe Risso (co-director of the Avenger movies Infinity War and Endgame and a producer on last year’s Oscar Best Picture Eveything Everywhere All At Once) said in X (the former Twitter),” Movies like Lisa Frankenstein can be great vehicles to break new stars, and (director) Zelda Williams and (Oscar-winning writer) Diablo Cody found a superstar in Liza Soberano, who steals every scene she’s in as Lisa’s stepsister,Taffy.”
It’s a supporting role but a major one. In fact, one review considers it the second lead character in the film alongside The Creature.
“Where an actual 1989 comedy about a high school outcast would probably frame the popular cheerleader as her vain and vapid opposite, Taffy is the heart of the movie,” says Dylan Roth on Observer.com. “She’s Lisa’s advocate, whether Lisa acknowledges it or not. It’s through her that Lisa Frankenstein’s loving satire of Gen-X angst, which often conflated ‘too cool for school’ callousness with maturity and wisdom, becomes most pointed. Taffy rules, and she’s the movie’s punching bag because that’s her role in a story about a quirky teenage girl who wears black and listens to the Cure. Meanwhile, every one of the incredible alt-girl looks that Lisa rocks during her awakening are actually requisitioned from Taffy’s closet.”
Toronto-based reviewer David Baldwin calls the Filipino actress the film’s “secret weapon” and “beating heart.” “Her entire arc is being the preppy cheerleader focusing on everyone else’s happiness (especially for her outspoken stepsister) and she practically soars in the role. She comes in and out often, yet always brings a warmth and understanding that offsets the Film’s most absurdist moments. You can genuinely feel how missed her presence is whenever she is not on screen.”
Here are the other raves for Soberano’s performance in the film from Oscar-winning writer Diablo Cody (Juno, Jennifer’s Body) and first-time director Zelda Williams (daughter of late movie legend Robin Williams).
USA Today: “The movie’s breakout gem is Soberano, who brings scene-stealing verve as the protective Taffy gets caught up in her sibling’s shady business.“
Los Angeles Times: “But the breakout star and true discovery of ‘Lisa Frankenstein’ is Soberano, who has a real gift for imbuing Cody’s famously clever and convoluted dialogue with a sincerity that elevates the character beyond an ironic archetype as she morphs from mean teen to scream queen. In fact, Soberano might be too good in the role — she’s so charming and sympathetic that there’s an emotional domino effect that exposes some problems with the script.”
Vanity Fair: “Taffy has a tartness, an edge that makes her more fully human than she might be in a lesser writer’s hands. Or in a lesser actor’s. Soberano, a star in her native Philippines making her Stateside debut, is an ace scene stealer.”
Slashfilm: “The real stand out is Filipina superstar Liza Soberano as Lisa’s step-sister Taffy. In lesser hands, Taffy would be nothing more than an archetypal Valley Girl coasting off of a 1000-watt smile and vocal fry, but in Soberano’s more than capable hands, Taffy earns her spot in the ‘amazing sister’ roster of the teen girl movie canon. Her comedic chops were a genuine surprise and if she’s not waking up on Monday to an inbox filled with leading role offers, something is seriously wrong. She’s already a huge star in the Philippines, but her performance here makes for one hell of a Hollywood debut.”
Fresh Fiction TV: “It’s Soberano who absolutely steals the show. She’s a revelation, whose work contains multitudes, bringing together strength, sweetness and silliness. She digs beneath the surface of what could be a brain-dead, superficial mean girl, elevating the confounding material.”
The Wrap: “If there was a breakout star of this film she is certainly the one. Soberano is hilarious and heart-warming and it never feels as though she’s making fun of the archetype she’s inhabiting. There’s a genuine quality there that makes the performance work.”
Collider: “Her comedic timing and delivery are phenomenal, and she’s able to bring vulnerability and sincerity to every scene, even when the material she has to say would look completely out-of-pocket and callous on paper. In lesser hands, Taffy could be a stereotype – a one-dimensional character we’ve seen hundreds of times – but Soberano puts a refreshing spin on her, giving her real depth and scene-stealing moments.”
San Francisco Chronicle: “Soberano, in her Hollywood debut, finds comedy in a weak script and radiates goodness without being boring.“
Deadline: “Soberano, as Taffy delivers her lines with a humor that, whether by design or by accident, adds a quirky charm to the story. Her portrayal injects a dose of levity, highlighting the film’s campy sensibilities amidst its darker moments.”
Lisa Frankenstein had a Mystery Movie screening in the US ahead of its black carpet premiere in Hollywood last week. It started its theatrical run on February 9, two days after it opened in Philippine cinemas last Wednesday.