SYNOPSIS: The movie follows the trials and tribulations of a retrenched microbiology scientist, Professor Chua, as he turns to taxi driving after several failed job attempts. Along the way, he befriends (although they didn’t quite start off as friends from the get-go) a veteran taxi driver, Ah Tau. The two men, who appear to be polar opposites of each other in every aspect from educational levels, personalities, attitudes toward life and even the languages that they speak, eventually find themselves interdependent and influencing each other in ways that they probably had never imagined possible. A fish out of water, Professor Chua gradually learns to move out of his comfort zone and sheltered life in the research lab, and adapt to the real world on the streets of Singapore. Yet, his biggest challenge of all, has to be: breaking the truth about his change of profession to his uninformed family – his social-conscious mother-in-law, his elitist son who idolizes his career as a scientist, and his wife whom he vowed to never let her have to worry about the bread and butter issues throughout their marriage. Can he hide it from them forever? And will they still respect him as head of the house if he reveals it to them? Ah Tau, on the other hand, has problems of a different nature. His son, Jia Jia, believes that his absent mother is on a trip around the world, and he has to continuously find ingenious ways to keep the boy’s belief alive, so as not to shatter his hope of seeing her again. Also, badly influenced by his own street Singlish that he uses to communicate with his passengers, Jia Jia spouts Singlish like a typical taxi driver whenever he speaks, and his kindergarten teacher who promotes “Good English” is surely not impressed. A loving father but whose means are limited by his capabilities, can Ah Tau provide what’s best for his son? Bugged by their own individual troubles and initial aversion to each other, the two unlikely buddies soon discover that they can actually help one another out, and show the other what he has never seen from his usual position all along. They finally realize that life’s dead ends can actually turn to passable roads, if you just approach them from a different angle and with a different attitude!
Taxi! Taxi! marks the directorial debut of local filmmaker Kelvin Sng and I like to go on the record to say it’s such an entertaining, genuine piece of work that a lot of so-called veteran’s debut works seem pale in comparison.
Taking his inspiration from blogger Cai Mingjie’s real-life account as a taxi driver, Sng’s movie revolves around the daily lives and relationship of taxi drivers, Ah Tau (Mark Lee) and Professor Chua (Gurmit Singh). Ah Tau is a single father to a cute son (YouTube sensation Dr Jiajia) while Chua is an ex-professor whose job is being taken over by young foreign talents. These two unlikely guys from different world became the best of friends as they encounter individual troubles and helping each other along the way.
The script by prolific writer and director Boris Boo and two other credited writers cleverly mixed comedy and social commentary into it. Though to be fair, the movie scratches only the surface of sensitive social issues since this is a MDA co-funded affair after all. Still, it has been a long time since we watched a reasonable well-written storyline by Boo. Thus it comes as a welcome surprise that the humour of Taxi! Taxi! on the whole is spot-on and bears strikingly similar to Jack Neo’s earlier movies minus the long-windedness and preachiness fortunately.
The casting of comedians Mark Lee and Gurmit Singh is a godsend. Lee is more than just convincing portraying an ah beng taxi driver with a heart of gold and Gurmit proves he can act beyond Phua Chu Kang opposite ex-Mediacorp actress Jazreel Low who plays his onscreen wife. The chemistry between the both is electrifying, fed with some hilarious lines (some I suspect improvised by the duo) and most of the gags are simply rib-tickling to the core.
The story did have its heartwarming moments, the sequence where Tau and Chua shared a conversation over a beer turned from laughter to anger for example is one of the movie’s highlights. While the movie did turn a bit mushy and clichéd towards the end with one character attempting suicide on a rooftop, the development still has a nice payoff. Veteran Malaysia actress Lai Meng once again plays a dementia character and the cutesy-looking Gan Mei Yan plays Ah Tau’s tenant and love interest not forgetting a whole bunch of local talents popping in for cameo appearances especially a very amusing Chua Enlai.
Despite some less than flattering CG, Taxi! Taxi! scores high for its sincerity and entertainment values. Not bad for a first time effort.
The Making Of lasts 23 minutes and it’s more of an interview piece with the director and various cast members.
Behind The Scenes has the cast cracking jokes and having fun on set.
The DVD also consists of a Music Video and Trailer.
Image details are fine while a couple of night shots tend to be a little grainy. The Dolby Digital 2.0 offers an insignificant but pleasant listening experience.
DVD RATING :
Review by Linus Tee