Friday, September 07, 2007

The Odd Couple (Koo Rad), Thailand, 2007


While watching this in the comfort of a Thai theater among a sea of laughter, the main reaction I had was how unlikely it would be for this film to ever play in America. It is a constant barrage of rude, crude, politically incorrect and insensitive humor that both appalls you and forces you into fits of laughter. It smacks every mincing gay stereotype in the face with a cream pie over and over again beginning with its opening song of “Queer like Us” and continues with ever more outrageous scenarios as it follows the travails of Lily and his never-ending quest for love, breasts and dick. And all this while a crazed serial killer and his many minions are after him. If you showed this in America there might be a riot, but this is Thailand and the transvestite/transsexual genre of films is big business and within that genre anything goes.

Nearly every year of late a few films in this genre surface to spit in the eye of good taste. Even though the most famous one is actually a fairly serious film (Beautiful Boxer), most of them are just silly comedies that generally poke fun at the gay image and yet at the same time send a gentle message of understanding and acceptance. It is a strangely mixed message certainly, but this is Thailand after all where this sexual preference is somewhat accepted even if a constant source of humor. What are termed ladyboys can be seen all over – go into a restaurant and often your waitress will have a suspiciously deep voice or watch a group of students in a mall and occasionally one of the boys will openly be wearing mascara. Nobody blinks twice here upon seeing a 6 foot mannish woman walking around dressed in an evening gown with enormous cleavage on display. Maybe it has to do with karma. In your next life you will be born a woman.

Add Mum Jokmok to this fertile mix and you have rude and silly up the whazoo – or as his character would say “just how I like it”. He plays Lily a frustrated man who only gets small mousy roles in the cabaret show, can’t find true love and doesn’t have the money to get breast implants. In his forties and with his unkempt square face, he is not exactly a lovely lady in waiting but he never stops dreaming. In Bangkok a serial killer is doing away with ladyboy’s and Lily witnesses his friend and roommate Angie being carved up (through a peephole where he was whining that his men are never so handsome – too much like Jackie Chan he complains) and Lily in turn is then nearly killed. Now as a witness, the killer sends hoards of men to silence him. Lily buries his friend and burns photos of Tom Cruise and Andy Lau to keep him company and to have lots of sex with in the afterlife – why he picks those two actors I can’t imagine. To his rescue though is a Japanese cop who has been after the serial killer for crimes in Japan and Lilly immediately falls head over high heels in love and spends the remainder of the film trying to seduce him in increasingly frilly outfits. Her competition though is a knockout female cop, Pat (Busarin Thokpraipan) who has the real goods in nice quantities.

Lots of action and silliness follow in which we discover that Lily was a trained Thai boxer whose career came to an abrupt halt when he went gaga for his opponent in the ring and kept hugging him. One truly outrageous scene that alone would probably get this film banned in America takes place early in the film when Lily comes across a mother and her child begging for money and lifts the four year old naked boy’s privates to eye level and tells him he will be back for him someday when he is grown. To some degree the gay shtick gets a bit tiresome after a while but then Mum throws something at you that brings out more stupid laughter. It is a funny idiotic film that has to be approached cautiously and with an open unblemished empty mind.

My rating for this film: 7.0