Young & Fabulous(2016)
- RatedPG /GenreComedy, Drama, Family
- LanguageEng / Mand
As mentioned in our ’16 Singapore Films to watch in 2016’, ‘Young & Fabulous’ is film distribution company Encore Films very first foray into movie producing, and boasts the distinction of being the very first local movie to cast the spotlight on the sub culture known as cosplay – people donning costumes of their favourite manga or comic character.
Being a specialist in distributing Japanese manga and anime inspired movies in Singapore, it is not surprising that Encore Films would pick this subject matter for their debut feature film to appeal to their large youth fan base.
The coming-of-age story co-written by veteran script writer Rebecca Leow and producer- director Joyce Lee is primarily focus on three teenage friends who strive against all odds from parental objections, financial woes and peer pressure to pursue their dreams.
The hero of the story Royston (played by TV heartthrob Aloysius Pang, who has top billing) is introverted and studious ‘otaku’ who has a natural talent for designing and making costumes.
Cosplay provides him with an outlet to showcase his talents and overcome his innate shyness by acting out a fantasy character. Malaysian
YouTube singing sensation Joyce Chu plays Violet, the spoilt rich girl with “princess syndrome”, always craving for attention from friends and more “Likes” on her social media.
After she realises that money can’t buy true friendships and popularity, she discovers that Cos Play could be another way for her to become truly popular and accepted.
Finally, Haoren the sweet talking smooth operator played by Joshua Tan who joins the group initially because of the prize money. There is more to his character though as we found out that his street smart money minded character is shaped by circumstance and a poor family background rather than greed.
He’s literally a “Haoren” (Rhymes with good man in Chinese) at heart as he becomes the gel that holds the group together, as the three friends become positive influencers on each other.
'OUR TIMES'-SG STYLE
The first act of the film basically lift pages off recent high school teeny bopper hits from Taiwan such as ‘Our Times’ as the characters are established and key relationships formed amidst all the silly classroom antics such as cheating in exams, dodging the stern teacher, and the compulsory taunting and rivalry from other fellow students, played by members of the popular local band Sam Willows.
There’s also a romantic sub-plot that involves Royston and Violet. Depending on audience’s tastes, this whole section may prove to be too saccharine sweet and cliché ridden to be convincing and palatable.
The young casts roll up their sleeves and did their best for their respective roles, though the inane dialogue and situations did not help much to create real vested interest in their characters.
Joshua Tan also looks a bit too old to play a student in high school as compared to his more youthful looking co-stars.
VETERAN ACTORS SAVE THE DAY
It is a calculated move on the part of the filmmakers to cast the teen idols in order to appeal to the movie’s intended audience, though they also bought ‘insurance’ by casting veteran actors such as Gurmit Singh, Henry Thia and Quan Yi Fong in key supporting roles.
Gurmit playing the straight face stern teacher and Thia playing Hao Ren’s karang-guni father provided the most comic relief as they deliver their lines with natural comic timing and flair while remaining true to their characters.
The parent – child relationships which are further explored in the second and third acts gave the plot much needed dramatic conflicts and pathos, as we begin to empathise with each of the three characters on what drove them to become disaffected youths and how cos play and this close knit circle of friends become their support network and sanctuary.
Quan Yi Fong was mostly effective as the Tiger Mom who only wanted the best for her son, though a few melodramatic scenes of conflicts between her and Aloysius were over directed and became mere shouting matches.
It is in the quieter scenes that we see real acting chops from the veteran host-turned-actress, whose last movie role was in Eric Khoo’s ’12 Storeys’ back in 1997.
LACKS REPRESENTATION FROM THE LOCAL COSPLAY COMMUNITY
The movie is largely focus on the storylines and development of the three characters.
Even though this makes the movie less complicated and easier to watch, one does wish that we could’ve seen more of the local cosplay community, as the subculture has quite a big following here.
Most of the cosplaying featured are only skin deep and mere visual spectacles rather than showing the processes and interactions behind the scenes.
The positive uplifting message at the end feels like an ad from the Ministry of Social and Family Development.
Even though the end credits do feature interviews from three real life cosplayers sharing their stories on camera, they came on a little too late.
‘Young & Fabulous’ open 26 May 2016.