is a hardworking but unscrupulous employee for a mildly successful
slimming centre "Natural Beauty". In his efforts
to increase company profits, Max decides to purchase supplies
from a counterfeit brand. When he is found out, Max is fired.
In his retaliation, Max decides to open a rival company "Max
Beauty" using the same counterfeit beauty products and
slimming pills. Max's conscience appears to advise him against
these actions but is duly ignored. Max will eventually realize
that what comes around, goes around and what it means to Being
You often know exactly what you want out of a Jack Neo movie- his trademark 'ordinary-man' humour, his satirical take on the latest social issues of the day, and of course his team ('J Team' to be exact) of actors including Mark Lee, Henry Thia and Patricia Mok. "Being Human", the latest from Singapore's most commercially successful writer/director, falls short on almost all three counts.
First and perhaps most disappointingly, there's none of his trademark humour to be found here. Sure that's not necessarily a bad thing- as contrary to its box-office results, his 2003 "Home Run" was actually a very respectable effort at a historical drama- but "Being Human" isn't at all respectable. It is a mishmash of what really are two movies- the first involving unscrupulous businessman Mai Wei's devious attempts at conning his customers and the second involving Mai Wei and his wife's conception woes.
How these two parallel and disparate plot threads belong together in the same movie is a conundrum Jack Neo never manages to overcome- and the result is a movie as disjointed as what you may expect. In fact, Jack Neo should be admonished for his haphazard attempt at bringing together the two stories by blaming Mai Wei's callous business ways for his wife's inability to conceive. Does he mean to suggest those who have not been able to conceive are so are a result of their misdeeds?
His misstep doesn't stop there. Again trying to appeal to his regular audiences, he resorts to slapstick gags and crude dialect jokes to garner laughs. The former consists of NoNo's appearance as Mai Wei's conscience, popping out of nowhere whenever Mai Wei has a choice to do right or wrong. Unfortunately, the Taiwanese funnyman is let down by cartoonish antics supplanted by horrible CGI. The latter consists of Mark Lee's rapid fire talk which though amusing in parts gets increasingly tiring as the movie wears on.
Unlike the usual Jack Neo movie, "Being Human" is also surprisingly outdated. While local audiences can often rely on Jack Neo to satirise the latest social issues, he revisits the Slim 10 saga that made headlines almost eight years ago. Is it as relevant? Perhaps. Is it as fresh? Definitely not- and there's little reason Jack Neo gives why you should be bothered about what he has to say about it eight years later.
The only thing Jack Neo appears to have gotten right is the casting of Mark Lee and Yeo Yann Yann. Mark Lee tones down his usual 'ah beng' persona to play a self-made businessman and manages to convince that the actor doesn't need to be stereotyped as he usually is. Yeo Yann Yann as usual proves to be one of the most reliable leading actresses in the Singapore film scene, and is both hilarious and heartbreaking in parts playing Mai Wei's wife.
But the few merits this film has is quickly forgotten when the ending rolls around, or to be more exact, the multiple endings. Quite out of the blue, the end credits start rolling before a voiceover tells you 'hey it's just a joke, the movie's not over yet' and then rewinds itself to continue with the story. The real peeve is when he does it not once, but twice, and after dithering how to end the movie, finally decides on what is in this reviewer's opinion as bad a cop-out as the ending in his previous film, "The Best Bet". Yes, if you remember how cheated you felt at the end of that film, Jack Neo does it again.
Really, there is little to recommend at all about "Being Human". It counts as one of Jack Neo's worst, without his signature laughs or satire. Of course, we may well remember that this film was released at the time Jack Neo's real life scandal broke, which only made his preaching hollow and false. Scandal or no scandal, this is a terrible movie and you can't be blamed for hitting the 'stop' button once those end credits roll- never mind whether is it really the end.
SPECIAL FEATURES :
There’s the obligatory "Making Of" featurette in which Jack Neo tries to explain why this movie is as disjointed as it is. Well, there's simply no excuse for lazy plotting in this reviewer's opinion. Other than that, there's also the theatrical trailer which contains all the best bits from the film.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 audio is an utter letdown- dialogue sounds muffled and could definitely do with much rendering. Visuals are equally disappointing- not only are they out of focus, they are also delivered in standard TV (4x3) format so those watching on widescreen will just have to make do with a smaller screen.
by Gabriel Chong
Posted on 20 June 2010