Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Wedding Game (大囍事 / Da Xi Shi)

Have a Whiff

This was a movie waiting to be made. Celebrity couples don't get any bigger than this pairing in Singapore, so exploiting the real for the reel was something quite expected, given after all the timing, with Christopher Lee and Fann Wong tying the knot sometime later this year. If audiences want a glimpse of what their big day would look like, the many costume changes in bridal gowns and suits here would provide for some teaser anticipation.

Like the other local movie offered this holiday season, this too is a Singapore-Malaysia co-production, with a cast from both sides of the Causeway and around the region too, together with Thai support in post production, and with Ekachai Uekrongtham at the helm. Gone are any arthouse pretensions, as this one is clearly and shamelessly commercial fare through and through, banking on the stardom of the couple, as well as interjecting the story with plenty of formulaic flavour played out to satisfy those looking for a family friendly film to bring the whole household to.

Real life moments did inevitably creep into the story played out purely for laughter, such as that infamous line Fann Wong made about rival Zoe Tay. Since Mediacorp had a hand in this film, spinning off a short reel from Return of the Condor Heroes can proceed without a hitch, where the two lovebirds reportedly met and fell in love in. It tried to provide some lift in its narrative especially when attempting to talk about celebrities having their lives led under constant scrutiny, be it their public persona under the spotlight, or what happens behind closed doors, with the paparazzi being exaggerated loads here. One wonders if their relatively fine performances (and obvious chemistry) stemmed from being exactly in the same shoes 24 x 7.

Otherwise, the story's as straightforward as it can get. Jack Fong (Christopher Lee) and Vikki Tse (Fann Wong) have their agents May (Alice Lau) and Tom (Chen Jian Zhou aka Hei Ren) to thank for in conceptualizing the PR stunt of the year. Obvious loggerheads with each other, the actors put on their finest performance (Lee seemed to have his character written such that he's strutting around shirtless a lot) in convincing the general public of their romance, all this while reaping in the benefits of endorsements to the tune of 6-figure sums. Well, at least that's what Vikki is in for, with the money used to bail her dad's business. As for Jack, his motivation wasn't fleshed out properly, other than to boost his popularity.

Much of the story in the first half had both Jack and Vikki put into various situations to reinforce their lie, and there were many situational gags that seem a throwback to Hollywood's What Happens In Vegas, where the protagonists had to move in with each other, to "enjoy" their new found status. What I particularly enjoyed were the moments involving the rather cliched use of mirrors to echo each character's innermost thoughts. Subplots here include the relationship each agent has with their client, and while things are less complicated for Tom since he's gay, the narrative did dwell a bit with May pining incessantly for Jack. But everything else went out the window when formula dictates that both Jack and Vikki will, through the passage of time, begin to fall for each other for real. There's little adversary here to screw things up, and whatever spanner was thrown into the story, was quickly resolved and brushed aside.

Like a wedding video made for the newlyweds, this is like Ekachai's version stuffed full of friends and the industry's who's who in an ode to the couple's (upcoming) marital bliss. While you can admire how GV Max and the National Museum, amongst other locales angled into new light, a bunch of blink-and-you-miss cameos also spiced up the fun. See if you can spot the lights of David Glass, Quan Yi Feng, Loo Zihan, Anthony Levi Kho, Zhu Houren, Dennis Chew, and Cassandra See, amongst others. Cicakman Saiful Apek also lent a helping hand, though not as his superhero alter-ego. Lai Ming again was severely underused, if not only to add yet another familiar face to the movie since it's also opening across the Causeway this weekend. And yes, in yet another motherly role.

So here's my verdict for the battle of the local movies - The Wedding Game trounces Love Matters convincingly, but only because it stuck to a formula delivering something that was quite plain, but not horrible, and had more convincing performances from the leads right down to the cameo appearances. Still, this only means that the bar has been set really low for other releases this year to stamp their mark of quality. And the real winner here seemed to be New Moon, having its product so prominently featured in both movies.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...