Take Me To The Moon is a teenage romcom with a twinge of sadness

Wang Cheng-hsiang (Jasper Liu) keeps Emma (Vivian Sung, both above) grounded in Take Me To The Moon.
Wang Cheng-hsiang (Jasper Liu) keeps Emma (Vivian Sung, both above) grounded in Take Me To The Moon.

It is easy to write this off as a cheap attempt to emulate the successes of Taiwan youth romcoms You're The Apple Of My Eye (2011) and Our Times (2015).

The similarities are apparent: The nostalgic school setting, the blossoming of awkward first romances and all of the foolhardiness that comes with being young.

This movie has even cast Our Times star Vivian Sung in the lead role. She dons a high school uniform once again and is as spunky as ever.

But while those two earlier works - which went on to become huge hits in the region - were light, feel-good fun, there is a sense of melancholy that pervades this film.

Cheng-hsiang knows that Emma's life will end in tragedy if she were to pursue her pop star dreams and goes to lengths to burst her bubble.

This is where much of the comedy of the film lies, as he thinks up nonsensical schemes to sway her from her path, including injuring her knee so that she cannot dance at an audition.

But he soon realises his dilemma when he sees just how much Emma truly loves to perform. Should he let her keep at it, despite the consequences?

  • REVIEW / DRAMA COMEDY

  • TAKE ME TO THE MOON 

    105 minutes/Opens tomorrow/3.5/5 Stars

    The story: Emma's (Vivian Sung) pop star dreams do not amount to anything, leading her to suffer from severe depression. When her long-time friend, Wang Cheng-hsiang (Jasper Liu), miraculously travels back in time to their high school days, he decides to put a stop to her singing fantasies to change her fate.

It is a tough question to answer and should make viewers ponder their own lives.

Which is worse - chasing unrealistic fantasies or the regret of never trying in the first place?

These questions are fitting, given that the film was made as a tribute to the late Taiwanese singer-songwriter Chang Yu-cheng, who died in a car accident in 1997 at the age of 31 (the movie title is also the name of one of his hit songs).

Known for his high-pitched vocals and inspirational lyrics, he fought to release the experimental album, Karaoke Live. Taipei. Me. (1994), near the end of his career, even though it was unlikely to sell.

As expected, fans did not take well to the album and yet music critics have since celebrated it as one of Chang's most authentic and creative offerings.

Perhaps, there is a lesson or two to be learnt here.

• Take Me To The Moon opens in cinemas tomorrow.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 27, 2017, with the headline 'Teenage romcom with a twinge of sadness'. Print Edition | Subscribe