Movie review: Quan Yi Fong, Henry Thia steal the scenes in Young & Fabulous

(From left) Joyce Chu, Joshua Tan and Aloysius Pang play students with dreams in Young & Fabulous.
(From left) Joyce Chu, Joshua Tan and Aloysius Pang play students with dreams in Young & Fabulous.PHOTO: ENCORE FILMS

Veteran actors Quan Yi Fong and Henry Thia outshine the young cast in local school drama

REVIEW / COMEDY DRAMA

YOUNG & FABULOUS (PG)

107 minutes/Opens tomorrow/2.5 stars

The story: Top student Royston (Aloysius Pang) dreams of becoming a fashion designer, but his mother (Quan Yi Fong) wants him to be a doctor. He secretly makes fancy cosplay outfits for his classmates, in part to impress his crush Violet (Joyce Chu).

For a movie that is titled Young & Fabulous, it is actually the older actors here who make any sort of impression.

Veterans Quan Yi Fong and Henry Thia, in particular, steal every scene they are in, delivering both the laughs and the emotions in the family drama.

They play parents who want only the best for their children, although that creates plenty of friction in their respective households, as their kids have different aspirations in life.

It is a hackneyed premise, but Quan and Thia nonetheless manage to make the family dynamics believable.

Quan is the tiger mum who kills her elder son's dream of becoming a fashion designer, believing that there is no future in the field. Thia is a karung guni man struggling with money problems and is baffled as to why his son (Joshua Tan) would freely spend hundreds of dollars on his cosplay hobby.

It is no spoiler to say that everything somehow works out in the end, but the family conflicts are at least more relatable than the film's ridiculous student drama.

Most of the young stars, save Channel 8 hunk Aloysius Pang, are hammy and over-the-top, and not in an endearing way.

They can don the school uniforms and they can have their silly daydream sequences, but if this movie is trying to be Singapore's answer to Taiwanese hit school movies Our Times (2015) and You're The Apple Of My Eye (2011), then it has failed miserably.

Rather than cast young stars in roles where they can showcase their comedic talents (think Jack Neo's Ah Boys To Men films), most of them have clearly been handpicked just because they have social media clout. So you have popular singer-actor Benjamin Kheng and his fellow The Sam Willows bandmates speaking terrible Mandarin in unnecessary bit parts, and Malaysian YouTube singing sensation Joyce Chu pouting and prancing about as if she were in one of her cutesy home videos.

These pretty young things are telegenic and have huge fanbases for the producers to cash in on, but that will not hide the fact that they have little else to offer here.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 25, 2016, with the headline 'Young but not so fabulous'. Print Edition | Subscribe