Saturday, 26 December 2009

Men In White (2007) @ 鬼啊!鬼啊!

At a glance:
Remember this crap? Men In White (note that two of the ghosts are actually women) mope about in an abandoned apartment, livin off mouldy oranges and grilled pork offerings. Our ghoulish misfits include, amongst others, the Hip-Kwan-Do (don't ask) gangsta-rappin twins played by Xavier Teo and Ben Yeung, a naggin old madam (Alice Lim), a young girl (Ling Lee, pic) and an obsessive badminton player (Shaun Chen). Stuck in a state of limbo and bored brainless, the lot of them go harassin the livin.
Bad news on the doorstep:
Told chapter by chapter (e.g. can ghosts fall in love?) in what must be an attempt to provide some semblance of structure, it first appears promisin. Soon, it just breezes by like a flurry of sketches, never havin somethin significant to say. If indeed insignificance is the very point, then I'd argue that even as light entertainment, it doesn't have that engagin quality which endears you to it. Contemporaries like Scary Movie 3 might have been infinitely shallower than this, but at least there are scenes we remember for a particular quality. The most arrestin this movie ever got was when the MTV clips came on because the songs were actually quite catchy.
Perennial wonderment:
Kelvin Tong (the only Singaporean director whom I can attest to be a nice guy), found early success with his horror hit The Maid but here he shot off in as many directions he could, all at once. Employin a young cast of pretty faces not mainly known for their actin, he's managed to create an image for this film which invites you to speculate on its content. Infused with a particular blend of Hokkien, English, Cantonese and Mandarin dialogue which is exclusive to people who live in conditions where they hear all four, one does feel that the target audience is restricted to only the two Chinese diaspora on either side of the causeway. It's a good thing Tong went on to shoot a decent horror in Rule #1 and we're now waitin for his Kidnapper, due 2010.
Amacam joker, berapa bintang lu mau kasi?Men In White doesn't cut it as a rewardin social commentary. It isn't purely slapstick comedy either. What it does feel like is a well-financed, independent pilot episode of what could be a weekly half-an-hour sitcom series, reekin of esoteric Singaporeana and forever lost in translation to those who can't figure out why car accidents and 4D opportunities are so hilarious. With its overdone personalities and uneven execution, Men In White never took itself seriously. We shouldn't either.