Rating: 1 out of 5
Some people may believe in the idiom that “actions speak louder than words.”
Based on the bizarro Chinese sitcom world—unlike any Singapore I know—that the characters of the latest Fann Wong vehicle, Happy Go Lucky, inhabit, it seems director Harry Yap believes in actions and words both delivered as ‘loudly’ as possible.
All the characters of the film, from the put-upon goody-two-shoes foot masseuse played by Fann, to her petty and catty step-sister (Patricia Mok), to her gambling-addict father (Richard Low), speak in a most unnatural manner, while gesticulating to their hearts’ content.
It is a manner most commonly found in local Chinese dramas or sitcoms.
Sometimes, people even speak aloud with not a single soul around them. Now, soliloquies may work in Shakespearean plays, but this tell-don’t-show style of ‘acting’ and ‘storytelling’ is the most glaring deficiency of Yap’s mediocre directorial debut.
While the script for what is essentially a message movie, a cautionary tale about the ills of gambling addiction, is limp and unimaginative, it really is the artistic direction of this film that is insulting to audiences’ intelligence and needing an urgent revision.
The protagonist, a young lady with the fortunate name of Fu Xin (Fann), which translates as “lucky star”, is a meek and gentle person who works to help pay for her father’s gambling.
Despite her irresponsible sister and father being mean to her, calling her names and criticising her cooking, she takes her abuse and remains loyal and caring, continuing to persuade them to change their ways to no avail.
I don’t know about you, but spinelessness does not immediately make one sympathise with a leading lady, even if she has a heart of gold and kindly feeds lonely old folk sponsor-friendly abalone.
Then there’s the humour factor. The formula consists of dialect phrases and wordplay, as well as slapstick sheningans, such as ever-popular fart scenes and fatty jokes. There are also dumb-and-dumber moments with Low’s character and his two unsavoury gambling sidekicks.
Mok’s character also gets up close and personal with a male escort. Instead of laughs, the fact that the comedienne still has to play ugly duckling ah lians in order to get film roles is somewhat pathetic.
For Fann, Low and Mok, their roles in Happy Go Lucky are ones that each could have played with their eyes closed. Such uninspiring typecasting must surely frustrate any self-respecting actor, and these seasoned performers will do well to seek roles beyond these limitations in future.
As a movie experience, watching this film was akin to having a root canal without any anaesthesia. The plot and characters beggar belief and obstruct the suspension of disbelief.
If actions speak louder than words, imagine a man waving a Stop sign vigourously as you read this review, heed the advice and thank your lucky stars.
About Yong Shu Chiang
Yong Shu Chiang, otherwise known as SC, is a freelance editor and writer. He reviewed movies for Juice magazine when he was in college, and was the resident film reviewer for Today Newspaper from 2003 to 2005. He has also reviewed movies for Prime Time Morning on Channel NewsAsia.
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