Saturday, September 28, 2013

Honesty . . . is not always the best Policy

Director: Wong Jing

Year: 2003

A couple of years ago I went to see my doctor and after a test he told me that my sugar levels were higher than they should be and that I would have to make some changes. The two things he singled out were coca-cola and Hong Kong comedies. Both could be dangerous to my long-term health he told me. But you know how hard it is to do what a doctor tells you to do. I have been pretty good when it comes to coke but every now and then I have to indulge in a Hong Kong comedy and my sugar levels go sky high. They should come with a warning sign for diabetics. Honesty is about as sweet as it gets but to its credit not ever treacle really. Only near the end like any sweet left in the open too long it gets a little gooey.  But again, it’s not really a “make me gag” gooey.  Wong Jing manages to give a touch of goofiness even to these parts.

Like most modern Hong Kong comedies it aims for cute and it hits it like road kill in the middle of the highway. Cute is the mantra of comedy now.  People act in these adorable make believe ways that don’t in any way resemble real human beings. You don’t need that legal statement in front of these films. Puppy like young stars, cute set-ups, capricious designs and whimsical camera work shouts out in a high pitched voice “kawaii!”. The Twins were of course the masters of this but others rushed in as well who in truth I generally find indistinguishable from one another. But Cecilia Cheung was different because though she can play cute as she does here; she also has shown some major acting skills in films such as Failan and Lost in Time. So you never know exactly what you are going to get from her which always makes one of her films a bit of an exploration. In Honesty she does cute on steroids as every thought that passes through her swiss cheese mind is expressed on her face in the broadest (and cutest) way imaginable. I’ve always thought her oval face, pointy nose and little eyes make her as close to an anime character as a person could be. She is like a character in the Tin-tin movie except they would not have to bother with all that motion capture computer animated stuff they used. She is living anime. Living art. Ok, on to the plot.

Moses (Richie Ren) is too good to be true. As I said earlier, no one in this film resembles anyone living or dead. He is kind to everyone from a beggar to a stranger in front of him on the bus whose hair is out of place. He visits the elderly, is a veterinarian and cries when he lies. And much too staid and dull for his well-filled out girlfriend Mimi (Lee San-san, one of the Cop Shop Babes who sadly has left the business) who has an affair with the nose-picking pizza man (Eric Kot). Moses kindly moves out of his own home and moves in with his girl chasing nephew played by Raymond Wong. One of the elderly men (Wong Ting-lam) that Moses visits decides to leave $25 million dollars to Moses in his will.

Moses has no knowledge of this but a nightclub hostess finds out when one of her inebriated lawyer clients tells her. This hostess Little Girl (Cecilia) has a brainstorm, track Moses down, woo him, seduce him, trap him, marry him and take all his money. She nearly orgasms just at the thought of her fiendish plan! When she meets him she is delighted to hear that he has many ailments and thinks that at most he will only live a few months after the wedding. After she finagles her way into moving in with Moses, Little Girl’s plan goes well for a while even though her loud-mouthed old boyfriend (Chapman To) shows up and Mimi comes back to also live with Moses and the lawyer shows up and recognizes Little Girl and even the pizza man shows up again – but none of this is what might possibly derail her plan. That would be the worst thing imaginable (unless you have ever seen a romantic comedy before) as love rears its ugly head. Silly stupid fun that does amuse at times with additional cameos from Pinky Cheung, Wong Jing, Iris Chan and Kitty Yuen. Next week I have to go back to New York City for another check-up. My doctor will let me know just how much damage this film has done to me.

My Rating for this film: 6.0

In this scene Little Girl thinks she will finally be able to seduce Moses.

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