WONDER MAMA (NC16)
96 minutes/Opens Friday/ Rating: 2.5/5
The story: Lovely (Petrina Fung Bo Bo) is a mousy librarian trying to keep the peace at home between her warring parents (Kenneth Tsang and Susan Shaw). Meanwhile, her grown son (Babyjohn Choi) is unemployed and stays cooped up in his room. Things come to a head when her father gets the maid pregnant after moving to Guangzhou in the wake of getting a divorce.
Veteran Hong Kong star Fung Bo Bo is the best reason to watch this movie.
Her last role was a cameo as a lesbian in Ann Hui's All About Love (2010) and she has come out of semi-retirement for writer-director Clifton Ko's Wonder Mama.
Over the course of the movie, she gets to blossom from a timid mouse who needs to check with her father when her boss offers a promotion, to a woman who begins to live for herself and not just for others.
Lovely has been so wrapped up in the lives of her parents and her son that she does not even have any friends of her own. Whenever she needs to talk through her frustrations, she would go to a doctor (Tse Kwan Ho) just before closing time to make sure she gets all the attention she needs.
Fung adds a touch of playfulness to a character who has been hard done by fate, beginning with a husband who disappeared without a trace years ago. When she learns about the maid's pregnancy, she can only laugh in the face of the tragicomedy that is her life.
As a whole though, Wonder Mama is somewhat uneven. The peculiarly Hong Kong mix of blithe comedy and melodrama feels a little jarring here. The scream fests between Kenneth Tsang and Susan Shaw are bruising and brutal take-no-prisoners affairs. But the intensity is undercut by the comic appearance of the luckless panda-eyed neighbours who can never get any peace.
Neither are the Stephen Chow references for Wen Chao, who used to imitate the Hong Kong comedian as a newcomer, particularly funny. Wen plays Lovely's mainland cousin here.
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