Director: Michelle Chong
Cast: Alexander Lee Eusebio, Calvin Chen, Jae Liew, Lee Teng, Michelle Chong
RunTime: 1 hr 30 mins
Rating: NC-16 (Some Mature Content)
Released By: GV
Opening Day: 14 November 2013
Synopsis: 3 PEAS IN A POD is a story of friendship, love and freedom. Three university students studying in Australia decided to go on a road trip before they graduate and go back to their respective countries to embark on their working lives. Little do they know, this farewell holiday is a trip that would change their lives forever.
3 Peas in a Pod marks Michelle Chong’s second foray into the director’s chair after her successful directorial debut, Already Famous. While her first feature takes a tongue-in-cheek look at the local showbiz circuit and resemblance more of her wacky onscreen persona, 3 Peas in a Pod sadly is a predictable, romance drama especially when it comes from such a versatile artiste liked Chong.
More of an attempt to penetrate to the lucrative overseas market, Chong assembled Alexander Lee Eusebio, former member of K-pop boyband, U-KISS and Taiwanese Calvin Chen of Fahrenheit as the leading male leads. To ensure she has the best visuals captured onscreen in addition to the pretty boys, Chong shifted her entire production to Melbourne’s picturesque landmarks and attractions courtesy of Tourism Australia.
But the storyline which involves three best friends entangled in a triangular love affair is nothing to shout about. Lee, Cheng and newcomer Jae Liew is Peter, Perry and Penny respectively which is why they are called the 3 Peas in the first place. Before they graduate and bid farewell to the country they have been studying in for the past four years, the trio decides to embark on a road trip together for a bonding time as Peter says. I can assure you the trio are not going to encounter some psychotic hobo or hitchhiker along the way. Instead Chong’s writings quickly detours into familiar territory as Penny realises she is slowly falling in love with Perry whom might be secretly in love with her, on the other hand Peter who has been treating Penny as sort of a female buddy becomes jealous of their blossoming relationship.
We wanted so much to like Chong’s effort in crafting a genuinely touching tale of friendship and romance. As the only heir of a rich hotelier, Peter’s struggles with his arranged life becomes a recurring plotline. Perry is a poor Taiwanese student on a scholarship and Penny only concern it seems is her infatuation with Peter. Unfortunately, none of the happenings are truly engaging or charming and the movie seems to buying it’s time to showcase Chen’s abs, singing and Lee’s constant (emo)ness to fill in the voidness especially during the excruciating first hour. The last 30 minutes is sort of a whirlwind as Chong turned in a twist of sorts. Pathetically, for those who have watched enough Taiwanese romance dramas (a certain GF.BF for example) and idol dramas have already predicted the outcome.
Beating more than 800 hopefuls to win the coveted role of Penny, Jae Liew is a natural for her screen debut and guess what, she has her moment to wow as well, appearing in a skimpy two piece swimsuit to satisfy the hormones-raging male crowd. Michelle Chong herself appears in a cameo (twice to be exact), first being an ang-moh motel staff equipped with an Aussie accent and the other you got to pay close attention to. Lee and Cheng certainly deserved all the hype given their good looks. The latter who has gained enough acting exposure through numerous dramas fares stronger in the acting department. Lee’s pales in comparison but that’s because his role requires more depth and emotional to carry out, a little too demanding for the ex-boyband member.
Aside from looking incredibly polished in terms of production technicalities, Chong certainly pull the rug from under the audience this time with her sophomore writing and directing effort. The talented artiste might be better known for her spot-on comedic impersonations on the small screen although she probably wants the audience to know she has other talents this time.
(Strictly for fans of Alexander Lee and Calvin Chen)
Review by Linus Tee