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SELL-OUT! (Malaysia)

  Publicity Stills of
(Courtesy of Lighthouse Pictures)

In English & Cantonese with English and Chinese Subtitles
Director: Yeo Joon Han
Cast: Jerrica Lai, Peter Davis, Kee Thuan Chye, Lim Teik Leong, Lee Szu Hung, Wong Wai Hoong, Hannah Lo
RunTime: 1 hr 46 mins
Released By: Cathay-Keris Films & Lighthouse Pictures
Rating: PG


Opening Day: 7 May 2009


Her name is Rafflesia Pong (Rafflesia=largest flower in the world, which reeks of animal carcass; Pong=stink). She's a bottom-ranking arts show host who's disillusioned with "those over-rated underachievers we call artists."

He's Eric Tan (Eric=Eric, Tan=typical Chinese surname), a product designer who's just about to learn that it doesn't pay to be creative.

They both work for FONY, a multinational conglomerate whose mission statement, copied from a Taiwanese company, is to be original.

In the face of such pressure, will Eric and Rafflesia retain their artistic integrity or will they finally sell out to fame, fortune or some other nasty thing that also starts with "F"?

Art is hard. Sell Out!

Movie Review:

Hollywood's got movie adaptations of Broadway musicals like Mama Mia! The Movie (2008) and Hairspray (2007). Singapore's got big screen treatments of getai tunes in localised movie musicals like 12 Lotus (2008) and 881 (2007). And across the causeway, our friends from Malaysia has this satirical movie that markets itself as a musical, and would you believe it, it's as enjoyable (if not more so) than many of pictures of the same genre we've seen in recent years.

Director Yeo Joon Han creates a story about a self absorbed TV host whose arts programme is facing the fate of being canned because of bad ratings. She has to come up with an ultimate reality show to beat her rival, an American accented, pan Asian, and rather pretty TV host. The golden opportunity comes when an ex boyfriend dies in front of the camera. She then has to find more interviewees to die for this reality series. She crosses paths with a mild mannered, half English corporate employee who wishes to create the ultimate soya bean machine. The unhappy man constantly gets insulted by his bosses and in a magical twist, the creative soul steps out of the physical body, leading to a possible assassination which creates another chance for good TV.

Trust the cheeky Yeo to come up with plot like that and escape unscathed from the Malaysian censors. The digs at capitalism are spot on, thanks to the exaggerations to ridiculous proportions. We love it when filmmakers do not take things too seriously and make a mockery out of the ridiculous state of things around us.

The second this movie begins, we know that this is going to be one hell of a ride which will make any viewer, whether you have any understanding about film analysis or not, literally laugh out loud. You see first time Malaysian film director Yeo Joon Jan making a joke of himself. Without giving too much away, let's just say that there is male nudity, loud gunshots and pools of blood. There are action scenes, dramatic showdowns, and most importantly, there are very engaging musical sequences.

Probably unknowns in many parts of the world, Jerrica Lai and Peter Davis headline this movie as the failing TV host and the creative corporate slave who yearns for an invention to be proud of. They give engaging performances, and they sing properly enough for us to want to own a copy of the soundtrack. Kee Thuan Chye and Lim Teik Leong play the FONY (phony? Sony?) bosses whose wise cracking dialogues will make you sit up and chuckle in amusement.

While the 106 minute movie may be occasionally too clever for its own good, it makes us see how corporate capitalism is taking over the world in a hilarious way. The movie also makes us see how media has the power to manipulate public opinion. And most importantly, the film makes us realise that being original and innovative is something we rarely see these days. And thankfully, we saw it here, and enjoyed every minute of it.

Movie Rating:

Review by John Li

(There is no reason why anyone won't enjoy this hysterically outrageous movie.)


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