Great actors wasted in overstuffed comedy

Tony Leung Chiu Wai and Takeshi Kaneshiro (both above) play bar owners in See You Tomorrow.
Tony Leung Chiu Wai and Takeshi Kaneshiro (both above) play bar owners in See You Tomorrow.PHOTO: SHAW ORGANISATION

REVIEW / COMEDY

SEE YOU TOMORROW

128 minutes/Opens on Saturday/2/5 stars

The story: Bar owners Chen Mo (Tony Leung Chiu Wai) and Guan Chun (Takeshi Kaneshiro) are experts when it comes to resolving relationship problems. Their friend Xiao Yu (Angelababy) enlists their help to guide singer Ma Li (Eason Chan) out of his broken-hearted funk.

The movie's title in Chinese is actually "Bai Du Ren", or "Ferryman", a reference to Leung's character Chen Mo, who metaphorically "ferries" people away from their sad states and on to happiness.

Half an hour into the film, I start wondering where my ferryman to the end credits is, as the overstuffed movie just goes on and on.

It is clear that writer-director Zhang Jiajia had a hard time deciding what to cut when adapting her novel Passing From Your World because even the most unnecessary characters get plenty of screen time.

So you have a lot of subplots that do not matter and random trains of thought that draw attention away from the three main guys. A pity, given that there is potential in the trio to make a compelling film on their own.

Actor Kaneshiro, in particular, is wonderfully hammy as a lovelorn bar owner.

His desperation to win back his former girlfriend Mao Mao is often laugh-out-loud hilarious, as he sheds his hunky image to get up to all sorts of ridiculous antics. There is a scene where he goes to extremes pretending he enjoys Mao Mao's horrendous cooking which will have viewers in stitches.

Leung and Angelababy have equally slapstick roles, although their stories are more cliched.

Chen Mo is an expert at resolving other people's problems, but cannot seem to let go of his own emotional baggage.

Meanwhile, Xiao Yu will do anything for her childhood idol Ma Li, including taking up a physically torturous drinking challenge that nearly kills her.

Both stars go all out in their roles, from falling down flights of stairs to getting comically slapped in the face.

It is just too bad that they worked so hard for so little pay-off.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 21, 2016, with the headline 'Great actors wasted in overstuffed comedy'. Print Edition | Subscribe