The Mayan doomsday prophecy generated plenty of headlines and inspired a slew of apocalyptic disaster movies in 2012, and it curiously underlines this fluffy Chinese New Year film. The approaching armageddon motivates the characters to realize the importance of family and, matched with a bag of laughs and a bundle of television stars, makes for a standard holiday film.
Though it shares a title with TVB’s 2011 CNY effort, the two are unrelated and I Love Hong Kong 2012 fails to live up to its predecessor. This one is a messy affair that lacks a coherent plot to drive its message home. Like the previous year’s film, Stanley Fung stars as the family patriarch. Kwok Ching is a longtime weather reporter for the local television station, and some scenes might remind you of the CNY classic It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad World). At work, he locks horns with his boss and one-time classmate, Kei Yee (Siu Yam-Yam), and at home, he oversees the lives of his three children – eldest daughter and lawyer Kwok Mei-Mei (Teresa Mo), who is married to Yao Ming (Eric Tsang, not Yao Ming), tomboyish middle child Kwok Ching-Ching (Denise Ho, not Guo Jing Jing), and youngest son and cameraman Aaron Kwok (6 Wing, not Aaron Kwok) – and brother San (Evergreen Mak).
The family’s personal and professional trials are subject to a revolving door of jokes and gags, the enjoyment of which depends largely on your knowledge of Cantonese and local news and gossip. The Hong Kong Observatory comes under fire and Mainland mothers crowding the city’s maternity wards also take a hit. Some of the best laughs come from a parody of the 2011 Taiwanese smash You are the Apple of My Eye between Ching and Kei Yee as they reflect on their youth and the present. Another moment that simultaneously elicits howls of joy and shrieks of horror comes when Mei-Mei and Ming, who are having trouble conceiving, try to get it on by dressing up in various form-fitting attire. Some people think it’s funny to see Eric Tsang wear spandex superhero costumes; some do not.
Everyone is absorbed in their own little orbit, and the camera flits into each character’s life just long enough to establish a conflict and make a few wisecracks before flying off again. So when the threat of annihilation comes to the fore, there’s a confusing urgency to everyone’s problems. Mei-Mei and Ming’s testy relationship is complicated when their sponsored daughter (Natalie Meng) arrives, having grown into a beautiful, busty young woman. Ching-Ching must decide whether she wants to marry her boyfriend (Bosco Wong), an effeminate grocery store salesperson, and in the process try to reconcile her boyish looks and behavior with her father’s gender expectations. The greatest burden though might fall on little Aaron Kwok, whose love for property/entertainment magnate’s lover (William So and Viann Zhang, respectively) pits him against all those monopolizing barons who are crushing the little people.
The jumble of stray plotlines eventually comes together and is resolved in a way so that all things are made clear and put at peace when you think the world will end. Despite humorous performances especially by Mo and a leather-clad E02, the movie doesn’t earn its good will. Nevertheless, you will probably leave the theatre, or your DVD player, or your illegal streaming site, with a warm feeling in your heart.
“Amazing Grace” (明日恩典) by Joey Yung
Prod: Eric Tsang 曾志偉; Peter Tsi 戚家基
Dir: Wilson Chin 錢國偉; Chung Shu-Kai 鍾澍佳
Writer: Peter Tsi 戚家基; Kwok Kin-Lok 郭建樂; Michelle Tsui 徐敏琳
Cast: Stanley Fung 馮淬帆; Eric Tsang 曾志偉; Teresa Mo 毛舜筠; Denise Ho 何韻詩; Bosco Wong 黃宗澤; Evergreen Mak 麥長青; 6 Wing 陸永; William So 蘇永康; Viann Zhang 張馨予; Siu Yam-Yam 邵音音; Christine Kuo 苟芸慧; Maggie Siu 邵美琪; Ding Yue 丁羽; Mimi Chu 朱咪咪; Hui Siu-Hung 許紹雄; King Kong 金剛; Bob Lam 林盛斌; Jess Shum 沈卓盈; Tats Lau 劉以達; Eliza Sam 岑麗香; Alfred Cheung 張堅庭; Natalie Meng 孟瑤; Samantha Ko 高海寧; Tenky Tin 田啟文; Otto Wong 王志安; Eddie Pang 彭懷安; Eric Tse 謝凱榮; Osman Hung 洪智傑; Celine Ma 馬蹄露; Matthew Ko 高鈞賢; Liu Fan 魯芬; Yu Miu-Lin 余慕蓮; Sire Ma 馬賽; Cilla Kung 樂瞳; Jacqueline Chong 莊思敏; Raymond Chiu 趙永洪; Matt Chow 鄒凱光; Han Jin 陳奐仁; Louis Yuen 阮兆祥; Mak Ling Ling 麥玲玲; Stephanie Che 車婉婉; Gill Mohindepaul Singh 喬寶寶
Time: 95 min
Country: Hong Kong