Director: Wu Yuhan
Cast: Huang Cailun , Allen Ai, Song Yang, Celina Jade
RunTime: 1 hr 53 mins
Rating: PG (Some Sexual References)
Released By: Shaw Organisation
Opening Day: 11 October 2018
Synopsis: Adopted from the stage show of the same name, Hello, Mrs. Money tells the story of Li Cha (Song Yang), a poor guy, and his billionaire auntie (Celina Jade). To win the heart of his beloved girl who likes money, Li Cha asks his billionaire aunt to help. Never met with his aunt before, Li Cha recognises a male employee, Huang Canghai (Huang Cailun), as his aunt by mistake. For their own benefits, Li Cha, Huang Canghai and Liang Jierui (Allen Ai) decide to pretend Li Cha’s aunt together, yet the “real aunt” shows up, bringing audience tons of hilarious moments……
It’s got the twisted mishaps of Hangover, the misdemeanor of Ted, and just a touch of that Crazy Rich Asian OTT display - except all wrapped up and tied with a Mainland Chinese bow on top. Hello, Mrs Money is a non-stop madcap riot, milking each unfortunate scenario made by bad decisions. And given how tacky the trailer was, I was surprised that the movie worked.
This is definitely in part due to the cast, who through their overacting, still manage to eke out giggles from their charismatic portrayals. Newbie director Wu Yuhan managed to work through caricatures to elicit decent emotional investment, so that the ending landed with enough punch. Brainy humour this is not, but flashes of wittiness surprise, and keeps the viewing enjoyable as the jokes shuttle rapidly through the gamut from toilet to slapstick.
The story is simple enough. Mrs. Money is really Monica (Celina Jade), a mysterious billionaire who is due to make a rare public appearance at a grand party for her nephew Li Cha (Song Yang), who needs her influence to win over his lover’s family. And a lot leverages on her appearance, because it turns out, everyone from the father-in-law to the brother-in-law, are on the verge of bankruptcy, and they are hoping an injection of Monica’s assets will revive their businesses.
But Monica is no frail, hapless old lady. She turns heads effortlessly in her pure white suit, and enjoys observing the world from a distance to investigate motives. So in this case, she calls to cancel her appearance, but disguises herself as the hotel staff to gauge the intentions of the new potential relatives.
On the island, her cancellation sets off a string of frantic reactions, ending in a hilarious episode where a dedicated employee Huang (Huang Cailun) is mistaken for the enigmatic heiress. You’ll really have to watch it to see how that happens. This leads Li Cha and his brother-in-law to continue the masquerade, resulting in equal amounts of squirming and laughing. It’s not too bad a mix really.
With all the colours, positioning, ensemble and circumstances, I wouldn’t blame you if you thought everything a little staged, because it was! But in this case, the transition didn’t feel too awkward, given how surreal the proceedings are going anyway.
While the characters like Huang, Li Cha and the father-in-laws come across crude at the first, but like the oddest dysfunctional family, they grow on you after some time. This is especially so for Huang’s impersonation of Monica. While hitting typical slapstick points at the start, the cross-dressing and voice-altering later strikes the funny bone hard, as Huang battles between the two characters in front of the entire family. I’ve never thought a phone vibration could bring a chuckle out of me.
And yes, even though the message of “money isn’t everything” has been done to death, the way it manifests itself in Hello, Mrs. Money still makes it enjoyable. Watch the end for a particularly clever shot.
(Cast aside technicalities and just enjoy the fun romp of zany antics, along with the pleasure of watching the fake Monica pull himself out of awkward situations)
Review by Morgan Awyong