Does a Singapore film need a remake so soon? I'm not sure, and judging by the end product of Aku Tak Bodoh, a Malay language film for the Malaysian market, adopting Jack Neo's I Not Stupid Too (the second, not the first film), the answer is a resounding no, unless of course the sole purpose and objective is to cash in on a successful formula, with the original being too Chinese-centric, to try and milk from a much larger audience pool. No less than 5 production companies are involved in this, including J-Team Productions flying the solo flag from Singapore with the rest being film production houses from across the Causeway.
There has been much flak and talk about this film trying to market itself as Singapore's First Malay Movie, which in itself is so wrong on all counts. It's clearly a Malaysian film, from its cast and crew right down to setting, and the only thing Singaporean about it is probably a director who hails from this part of the world, and a story that originated from Jack Neo. It's almost scene for scene on fast forward, seemingly on steroids as it breezed through all the emotional ups and downs plus comedy (that fell flat mostly) in a compact 90+ minutes that signals a real lack of purposeful pacing.
The trio of actors in Suhairil Sunari, Rohaizat Hassan and Wan Noor Aizat take over from the Singapore counterparts of Joshua Ang, Shawn Lee and Terry Khoo respectively playing Sudin, Roy and Jefri, the latter being the main narrator as he introduces us to his uncaring family with Riezman Khuzaimi and Amy Mastura Suhaimi playing the dad and mom roles that Jack Neo and Xiang Yun tackled, and Namron in Huang Yiliang's abusive dad role who never fails to berate his son Sudin. The main theme of the story is of course on the importance of family and family ties which in our modern day lives we tend to neglect and take for granted. Jack Neo managed to pull it off in his version, but unfortunately, with more or less the same material, his protege Boris Boo failed miserably, with the clear lack of an establishing shot to introduce characters, choosing instead to throw them all on screen in haphazard fashion.
It's like skipping the foreplay totally, eager to get his hands on the funnier comedic aspects of the original film, so much so that even the jokes got recycled lock, stock and barrel that they are incredibly unfunny the second time round. Granted nobody who has watched the original would be expected to give this version a go (except perhaps, erm, me?) but seriously, remakes don't have to trod the lazy path and lift every aspect from the original source material. Scenes got reassembled that watching this turned out to be an exercise of deja vu, totally expiring any emotional goodwill that the original contained.
I Not Stupid Too was a film some 5 years ago, and clearly some topical issues (that Jack is famous for incorporating into his films) cannot survive the test of time, and look terribly outdated here - take for instance, would a kid now be thrilled with a 2G phone (or a 3.5G one that looks fashionably 2G?), and I hate to say this but blogs are a bit passe with Twitter and other social media tools now entering mainstream. But the original story had those as plot elements, and the lazy remake just adopted them. Blindly. Some filmmakers may try to include some extra elements in a remake to keep it fresh for those who had seen the original, or the filmmakers may have include their signature style, or managed to capture the emotional essence of the original, but definitely not this.
Don't expect much from the acting department as the cast failed to deliver, looking comfortable to just be reading off their lines of dialogue. It's bad enough for scenes to try and make some sense when the pacing was continuously eager to move onto the next, with some crafted just for the sake of, like the preachy schoolteacher telling off another for his disciplinary methods, but it is worse when the cast fail to even bother to give their all. The limited fight scenes were laughable throwing it back to the 70s with cheat sheet fast-forwarding and lack of contact, although Suhairil Sunari does have the form to look like a modern day teenage warrior who can waltz right into an action flick.
The verdict? Give this one a miss. Should you be tempted, then go with the original that has subtitles. At least it had far better acting, better pacing and while not a masterpiece, has its redeeming values. If not for J-Team's association with it, you may not be wrong to think it was a completely unauthorized, pirated ripoff. Aku Tak Enjoy.