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LOVE MATTERS (Singapore)

  Publicity Stills of
"Love Matters"
(Courtesy of GV)

Genre: Comedy
Director: Jack Neo, Gilbert Chan
Cast: Henry Thia, Yeo Yann Yann, Jack Lim, Alex Leong, Cheryl Lee, Natali, Mark Lee, Lin Ru Ping, Zhu Ling Ling, Tay Ying Ying, Lai Ming
RunTime: 1 hr 53 mins
Released By: GV
Rating: NC-16
Official Website: http://www.lovematters.com.sg/en/home.asp

Opening Day: 22 January 2009


"Love Matters" is a movie revolves around three main protagonists – 52 year old Tan Bo Seng, 17 year old Benny his teenage son and 36 year old Jeremy, Bo Seng’s ‘adopted’ brother – and their accidental journey in seeking and keeping love
and happiness. Bo Seng (Henry Thia) leads a routine life. Attempts to revive the passion with his wife Jia Li (Yeo Yann Yann) cannot improve their stale love life. Jeremy (Jack Lim) lives a colourful life, colourful in reference to his long list of girlfriends. “Never to commit” is his motto for love. Benny (Alex Leong) has just school life, his only vice is anything to do with the computer, his only distraction is his crush, Jennifer (Natalli), his classmate’s girl. Bo Seng & Jia Li the old fashion couple has more misses than hits in the love department. When suspicion of impotency arises, Jia Li meets a toy boy while Bo Seng befriends a shopgirl, and a series of madness spin off one night…

Movie Review:

If you think Jack Neo is trying to remind you about the importance of love this Chinese New Year, you’re going to be quite disappointed. Indeed, it would be a mistake to think that this is a family comedy; because a large part of it plays like a sexual comedy. How else would you describe this farce that has two of its three male protagonists yearning for sex?

There’s Bo Seng (Henry Thia) who has not made love to his wife, Jia Li (Yeo Yann Yann), for over three years and is quite desperately trying to get into her pants. But when she finally gets the urge to make love to Bo Seng after hearing from her gang of gossipy friends that men can only do it for 5,000 times, she discovers to her horror that he has erectile dysfunction. Maybe he’s already used up his 5,000 times, she fears?

Living under the same roof is swinging single bachelor Jeremy (Jack Lim), the kind of adulterous guy who has to buy three different presents for three different girlfriends on Valentine’s Day. God made the male species philanderers, he proudly proclaims. One chance encounter with a sweet young teacher Ms Wong (Cheryl Wong) however leads him to have a change of mind (and heart).

The most innocuous (and also tamest) story arc involves the last male protagonist, Benny (Alex Leong), a teenager curious about the birds and the bees that finds the Internet a most valuable resource. He falls in love with a classmate, Jennifer (Natalli), who unfortunately is attached to a classmate of his.

No doubt love matters- Bo Seng will realise that having sex is not the same as making love; Jeremy will learn that having a loving committed relationship is better than having three flings; and Benny will discover that it’s possible to love someone still but being hurt. But the main problem of Jack Neo’s approach is that these messages are only conveyed through a pat ending, so you’ll probably remember more of the sexual humour than its well-intentioned message about love.

And perhaps one might go as far to describe this movie as schizophrenic. While the first half is filled with many mild sexual jokes and innuendos (both in overt and not so overt ways), the second half veers into drama and melodrama. There’s even a clearly Hard Candy inspired sequence thrown in for good measure! Besides the heavy-handedness of the latter half, the abrupt change in tone sadly makes the overall effort even patchier than usual Jack Neo outings.

Of course, Jack Neo’s flair has always been for comedy and there are definitely some that will leave you laughing out loud. It also helps that he has here assembled a competent male cast to pull off their respective roles. Henry Thia gives one of his most sincere performances to date as the married husband whose marriage of many years shows signs of crumbling. Not always the first choice for the leading role, he acquits himself handsomely here.

Ditto for Jack Lim and Alex Leong who turn in credible performances, even though the script lets them down in parts. But the most praise should be reserved for none other than Yeo Yann Yann. The years can slowly drain love from marriage and her performance as the long-suffering housewife makes the monotony of marriage life feel real and believable. One might even say that she makes her character the heart and soul of this movie.

While Love Matters had 2 directors, you can be forgiven for your ignorance- especially with Jack Neo receiving top billing as director. It’s hard to say what creative license co-director Gilbert Chan was given with this movie, because it feels through and through like another Jack Neo movie.

The almost critic-proof director has always been known to push the envelope- here, he does so by fashioning a sexual comedy for the masses. The result is surely tame and diluted, but still good for a few laughs. Unfortunately, it is where he attempts to wring some drama that the movie slowly goes to pieces.

Had this been a Valentine’s Day release, its theme would perhaps have been more appropriate. As it is for a Chinese New Year ‘he sui pian’, this is simply a misfire.

Movie Rating:

(Mild sexual comedy masquerading as family entertainment- Love Matters has not much Matter. Save your ‘ang pow’ money for something better)

Review by Gabriel Chong


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. 12 Lotus (2008)

. Just Follow Law (2007)

. 881 (2007)

. Singapore Dreaming (2006)




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