Director: Boris Boo, Mark Lee
Cast: John Cheng, Henry Thia, Mark Lee, Dennis Chew, Chua En Lai, Wang Lei
Released By: GV
Rating: PG (Some Frightening Scenes & Coarse Language)
Day: 6 January 2011
“The Ghosts Must Be Crazy” is the new upcoming movie of J Team Productions. There are 2 stories in the movie,”The Day Off” and “Ghost Bride”.
Directed by Boris Boo (director of “Phua Chu Kang The Movie”), “The Day Off” is about Ah Nan (John Cheng) and Ah Lei (Wang Lei) going for their annual in-camp training and they meet a very “on” Platoon Commander. They know that they are going to suffer this time round so they decide to cheat for MC. However, the Platoon Commander does not buy their idea and chases them away.
The Platoon Commander launches a series of rigorous trainings and everyone is complaining. Ah Nan and Ah Lei decide to play a trick on their Platoon Commander as a form of revenge. As they about to start their revenge, a series of strange things happen……..
The second story of the movie is directed by the first time director, Mark Lee, a comedian and host familiar to most households. “Ghost Bride” is about a man Ah Hui (Henry Thia) who is unlucky in love. He meets a stranger, Ah Hai (Mark Lee), who promises him fortune and blessings if he seeks help from 'brothers and sisters' in the netherworld. Ah Hui does so, and ends up finding a beautiful jade bangle inside a red packet. Soon after, Ah Hui strikes the lottery, but spends it all lavishly. Just when he is down in the dumps again, Ah Hai offers him another solution and something strange happens...
This reviewer must admit that he was actually quite excited for Jack Neo/Boris Boo’s “Where Got Ghost” last year. After all, it was quite an ingenious idea to fuse horror and comedy into one subgenre that Jack has so proudly touted as “hor-medy”. That is of course, until the movie actually came out and revealed itself to be less comedy than horror, and for all the wrong reasons. Indeed, the omnibus of three horror stories became a classic example of poor storytelling, bad editing, awful CGI and worst of all, blatant unnecessary moralising.
But the novelty of the “hor-medy” genre powered the movie to a unspectacular, but nevertheless modestly successful, $2.6mil at the local box office, so here we are again, with yet another “hor-medy”. Instead of three, we get two stories- “The Day Off” and “Ghost Bride”- directed by Boris Boo and Mark Lee (making his directorial debut) respectively. The good news- the experience of the first movie has apparently paid off, as evident in “The Day Off”. The bad news? Only one of two directors here had that experience.
There’s no dispute which of the two stories is the better half. Boris Boo’s “The Day Off” begins the movie on a high note, once again set around a group of ‘lao pengs’ on reservist training in the jungles of Singapore. John Cheng and Wang Lei reprise their roles they had played in the “Forest Got Ghost” segment of “Where Got Ghost” and the result is just as crude and hilarious. This time, their “chao keng” tactics start even before the outfield exercise, as they try to convince their platoon commander (Chua En Lai) to grant them medical exemption.
The ensuing verbal exchange will likely strike a chord with everyone who has been through National Service (NS), including Ah Nan and Ah Lei’s subsequent run-in with the typical strict Company Sergeant Major (played here by the Indian chap who has been a regular of Jack Neo movies since “Just Follow Law”). Even though Boris lets some sequences drag on a little too long, there’s no denying that Ah Nan and Ah Lei’s continuous attempts at slacking are largely laugh-out-loud amusing.
Less effective however is local comedian Dennis Chew’s effort to break out of his “Auntie Lucy” mold, playing Ah Nan and Ah Lei’s section mate who has apparently been afflicted by some unclean spirits. Chew’s acting pales in comparison to John Cheng and Wang Lei’s almost effortless chemistry, and often sticks out like a sore thumb amidst the duo’s antics. Part of the fault lies too with the script, which gives him little to do except reiterate how “sick” and “unwell” he is feeling to allude to the presence of some unclean spirits around.
Still, that and the use of some evidently cheap CGI (again!) is one minor gripe considering the entertainment value of this first story, easily standing out as the best of the “hor-medy” stories whether in “Where Got Ghost” or this movie. So kudos to Boris Boo, for redeeming himself after the disaster that was “Phua Chu Kang The Movie”. Unfortunately, what goodwill this superior first half garners is quickly put to the test by Mark Lee’s “Ghost Bride”.
An unsuccessful variation of the themes of gambling and greed in the “Roadside Got Ghost” segment of “Where Got Ghost”, it tells of 50-plus year-old single man Ah Hui’s (Henry Thia) misfortune when he takes the advice of a stranger Ah Hai (Mark Lee) and seeks help from the netherworld to strike lottery. Trouble befalls him when it is time for him to return the blessings, and he realises that he has to (gasp!) marry a ghost bride Ah Juan.
The revelation of Ah Juan’s identity is just about the only bright spark in this otherwise dull and pedestrian movie, though one suspects that this twist will also likely make many in the audience cringe in disgust (at least this reviewer did). Not to worry, there won’t be any spoilers here, but just a word of caution that this surprise, and the subsequent scenes that follow, are the unintended horror of this story.
Amply showing his inexperience as a director, Mark Lee never quite finds the right balance between horror and comedy. What passes for horror are utterly baffling sequences (e.g. Ah Hui in a huge metal cage with the ghost bride); and what passes for comedy are desperately lame jokes (an iPad for the dead that’s installed with the ‘My-ghost-soft’ software). Vacillating unevenly between horror and comedy, Mark clearly lacks the experience in ‘hor-medy’ that his fellow director Boris Boo has mastered surprisingly well.
Given the differing quality of the two short stories, it would probably have been wiser to place Mark Lee’s “Ghost Bride” before Boris Boo’s “The Day Off”. After all, those who have seen “Where Got Ghost” would already know to set their expectations low, which is something you’ll need to do to get through “Ghost Bride”. Watching “The Day Off” after would then be a welcome surprise, proof that it is indeed possible to make a ‘hor-medy’. Even though the movie on a whole ends up half-good, this story alone is worth the price of admission, a fine example of our brand of local humour in a uniquely Singaporean genre.
(Boris Boo’s “The Day Off” is the closest to what a ‘hor-medy’ should be; Mark Lee’s “Ghost Bride” is the exact opposite)
Review by Gabriel Chong