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  Publicity Stills of "We Are Family"
(Courtesy from Shaw)

Genre: Comedy
Director: Clifton Ko Chi Sum, Lau Jian Hua
Starring: Alan Tam, Hacken Lee, Leung Wing Chung, Hu Jing, Ng Hui, Jeff Wang, Patricia Mok, Michelle Tay, Abigail Chay
RunTime: 1 hr 35 mins
Released By: Mediacorp Raintree Pictures & Shaw
Rating: PG

Opening Day: 1 June 2006


Air stewardess Huang Jinfeng and her boyfriend, Li Zhijie are considering marriage, but during Zhijie's proposal, Jinfeng tells him that he might reconsider due to her eccentric family, who had frightened off her 5 previous boyfriends. Zhijie is truly sincere, and he resolves to meet her
family to win their consent.

The pair set off to Jinfeng's hometown where Li Zhijie is subjected to all kinds of "tests" by her grandmother and elders to gauge his suitability as their beloved Jinfeng's husband. Li Zhijie survives all and returns to Hongkong only to be subjected to more tests by Jinfeng's parents to test his trustworthiness. He has more hurdles to clear as he had to also obtain the approval of Jinfeng's eldest brother in Singapore.

Zhijie flies to Singapore, and was well received by Jinfeng's eldest brother who treated him like family, entrusting him with the expansion of his business, only to realise later that they are actually bitter business rivals.

Will Zhijie be able to survive all and claim his bride?

Movie Review:

Just when we thought that Hong Kong cinema is finally back on track with critically acclaimed and commercially successful movies like Johnnie To’s Election 2 (2006) and Peter Chan’s Perhaps Love (2005), along comes this flick directed by Clifton Ko and Lau Jian Hua.

It is so agonizing to watch, we wish we could do something to spare you the torture of sitting through this 95-minute movie.

Let us first study the ingredients of this picture. Everything seems to be a spot-on element – the money-raking pairing of popular Hong Kong veteran singers Alan Tam and Hacken Lee; the shooting locations in scenic China, cosmopolitan Hong Kong and our very own Singapore; and to top it all off, there are Tam’s various roles ala Eddie Murphy in The Nutty Professor (1996).

With these selling points in place, what can go wrong then? Sadly, almost everything – beginning from the movie’s uninspired plot.

Lee plays an up-and-coming businessman who has been continually trying to propose to his air stewardess girlfriend (played by Hu Jing, whose portrayal of the character can be rather irritating). She tells him that he has to meet her peculiar family members, who have scared off her previous suitors.

So off they go to China, Hong Kong and Singapore to meet the girl’s grandmother, parents and elder brother, all played by Tam. In all three locations, Lee is faced with awkward and embarrassing situations ala Ben Stiller in Meet the Parents (2000). In Singapore, unexpected rivalry occurs when Lee realizes that his girlfriend’s elder brother is actually his rival in business. So what would he choose - career or love?

Anyone who has any bit of experience in television-watching can tell you the oh-so-happy conclusion of this movie. Putting the unoriginal plot aside, the movie tries to milk laughs out of everything, though with unexpected effects – it may actually turn viewers off.

The movie starts off in China, and Tam’s cross-dressing grandmother is definitely a pain to watch. As if that is not enough, the filmmakers decided to throw in a nanny (cross-dressed by Leung Wing Chung) with disgustingly big assets. Probably no one had the courage to voice out that these characters are not funny, they are simply cringing. Having to sit through the first third of the movie trying to bear with these cross-dressers is definitely a test of patience.

The segments in Hong Kong and Singapore do not fare well either. Wearing wigs and sporting a big tummy is just not hilarious. Someone should have told the filmmakers that this gimmick does not work in this day and age anymore. Unfortunately, the jokes also come off as lame rather than funny.

It does not help that the flavour of the language jokes are entirely lost when the movie is dubbed in Mandarin for the local audience. There may have been some hope if the original language track of Cantonese was used instead.

What a waste of resources it is then, considering that the production spans over three countries, with some nice sceneries captured. The funds could have been used for better scripting and creativity.

You also know something is wrong when the funniest less-than-five-minute-moment in the movie comes from our very own Phua Chu Kang (played by a truly side-splitting Gurmit Singh).
For the rest of the movie, the only possible source of amusement comes from pointing out recognizable local actors during the Singapore segment. And for that, we would award this movie an extra half a star.

Movie Rating:

(The filmmakers could have put the money to better use, and it is movies like that which will make you appreciate mediocre Hollywood movies more)

Review by John Li


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