Miss Granny remake lacks Thai touch

Davika Hoorne (centre) stars as a grandmother who relives her youth and pursues her dream of becoming a singer in Suddenly 20, while Kritsanapoom Pibulsonggram (left) stars as her grandson.
Davika Hoorne (centre) stars as a grandmother who relives her youth and pursues her dream of becoming a singer in Suddenly 20, while Kritsanapoom Pibulsonggram (left) stars as her grandson.PHOTO: GOLDEN VILLAGE PICTURES

REVIEW / COMEDY

SUDDENLY 20 (PG13)

129 minutes/Opens tomorrow/3/5 stars

The story: In this Thai remake of South Korean film Miss Granny (2014), a stubborn old woman named Parn (Niranuch Patamasute) steps into a photo studio and magically emerges as her 20-year-old self (Davika Hoorne). She uses the chance to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a singer.

The desire to be young again apparently ranks high among wish fulfilment fantasies for people of many cultures.

The Thai version of hit South Korean film Miss Granny, about a grandmother who literally relives her youth, is not the first remake - several other countries, including Vietnam, China and Japan, have also adapted the film for their own audiences.

Each has achieved success as well - the 2015 Vietnamese remake, Sweet 20, even became the highestgrossing local film in Vietnam that year.

In the latest adaptation from the Thais, who have proven especially skilled in making wacky and charming comedies, first-time feature film-maker Araya Suriharn delivers plenty of goofy fun here, but only for those who have not seen the original.

In working with South Korean co-producer CJ E&M, the company behind the original film, this adaptation sticks so closely to its predecessor that most of the jokes here are rehashed almost word for word.

This is mostly fine, since the type of slapstick humour employed crosses borders easily.

The gorgeous Hoorne, best known for playing the titular ghost in horror-comedy hit Pee Mak (2013), has a great time with the physical comedy required of her role here, shuffling around and rudely shoving people aside, all the while looking so sweet and innocent.

But what the new film sorely lacks is a proper dose of Thai culture to set itself apart. The Chinese remake 20 Once Again (2015), starring Yang Zishan, had featured the actress playing mahjong and donning beautiful cheongsam with a short hair perm reminiscent of 1940s Shanghai.

This Thai version never risks doing anything different from the South Korean film. It is as if the granny did not do anything different with her second chance at youth.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 22, 2017, with the headline 'Miss Granny remake lacks Thai touch'. Print Edition | Subscribe