Sunday, January 22, 2006

I Not Stupid Too

No, you need not have watched the original I Not Stupid to figure out what's going on. Gone are the major Khoo Family (with the Hokkien-swearing Richard Low) and the main narrator, Terry Khoo. Instead, newcomer Ashley Leong takes over the narrator's role, as Jerry, the new addition to the Liu Family, with Jack Neo himself, TV actress Xiang Yun, and Shawn Lee as Tom.

Then again, forget that this is a direct sequel in terms of characters, as Joshua Ang (who played the rebellious schoolboy in the 1st installment) returns, sans mother and kid brother, but with the introduction of an abusive dad played by TV actor Huang Yi Liang. I Not Stupid Too is a standalone movie, with much of the hallmarks of a Jack Neo movie splattered in it.

Gone are the much identified and constantly played out political satire and comedy from the first movie, although Selena Tan also returns here, she plays a totally different character from the much disguised political party figure in the first, to a school principal who uses "according to the law" like a crutch. But Neo still injects ample social and topical issues here.

On the school front, we see the much criticized Speak Mandarin campaign take a hit, as well as a swipe at the arcane teaching methods of the language. Those who hated the process of learning the language, will probably smile with glee as we're presented with the need to evolve the teaching methods of yesterday. Topical issues and debates like the teacher hitting student in class and the media splashing the news everywhere, and public caning also get discussed, but it's somewhat lacking that only both sides of the spectrum of views are presented, without any deeper exploration from the basic coffee-shop talk.

In trying to up the topical hip quotient, smacks of the mention of blogs and the use of it as a narrative tool seemed ok, until you realize it's a blatant Singtel advertisement. Product placements galore in this movie, ranging from Nokia, to in-your-face New Moon abalone cans, and even the UOB bank.

While the actors put up commendable effort in bringing to life their characters, you can't help but to think you know much of them. They're like characters common in television drama serials, with their melo-dramatic moments. Surprisingly, much of the comedy and satire left in this movie is confined to the 1st third. The remainder of the movie focused on the other 2 children leads as they mix with bad company and ended up being blackmailed. You might think it's absurd given today's savvy kids, but these are things that are happening - savvy kids can also be gullible too. And you'll never expect that it actually turned out to be one heck of a weepy - many sniffles were head amongst the audience, so those with a weak emotional heart, bring along some tissues.

Some might not appreciate that this movie has plenty of sub plots introduced which gets resolved hurriedly, and the length of over 2 hours might make some gawk. There are only certain points in time that you would twiddle your thumbs at the slow moments of the film.

But kudos to Neo for highlighting an important plot running throughout, and it's the strong message to parents that they must always remember they bear primary responsiblity on the upbringing of their children. He seemed to hit the nail on the head in the portrayal of the current family climate, that neglect and the lack of communication are prevailing, which much be stemmed.

Not bad for a commercial film, with a moral of the story that the showing of appreciation is always much lacking in our society, amongst family members, colleagues and even friends. Certainly this movie has legs to be in the running for film awards.

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