Friday, September 07, 2007

BUDAK LAPOK: Tribute To P. Ramlee

BUDAK LAPOK (animated comedy)

Voice cast: Mohd Hasrul Syafiq, M. Hafidzuddin Mahmudi, Muhammad Eric Muhammad Fuzi, Datuk Aziz Sattar and S. Shamsuddin
Director: Anwardi Datuk Jamil
Time: 90 mins
Rating: * * 1/2 (out of 4)

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? "Budak Lapok" is a fitting tribute to the works of local legends, Tan Sri P. Ramlee, Datuk Aziz Sattar and S. Shamsuddin. The cartoon feature - the third locally-produced animated effort so far - is a fictional account of how the trio meet as children in a village called Kampung Sebatang Pinang and become close friends.

HIGHS AND LOWS: As the movie opens, we get the feel of the Sixties atmosphere - with rudimentary colours and old-fashioned hand-drawn images - as we are introduced to young Ramlie (voice of Mohd Hasrul Syafiq), Ajis (M. Hafidzuddin Mahmudi) and Sudin (Muhammad Eric Muhammad Fuzi) and their idyllic life in the village. The caricatures remind us of the TV cartoons of Datuk Mohamad Nor Khalid, better known as Lat, who seems to have a great influence on the artwork in this movie.

As expected, we see the trio doing what kids usually do in the kampung in those days - bathing in the river, making havoc for the chickens, struggling with English lessons and playing tricks on the local girls. Our three friends are particularly attracted to Nani, Salmah and Eton who are also their school mates. Ramlie, who sports the trademark 'karipap' hairstyle, has a soft spot for Eton and goes all out to impress her - even to the extent of taking part in an inter-school drama competition.

What is not expected, however, is the cameo appearance of cartoon versions of Datuk Aziz Sattar and S. Shamsuddin (providing their own voices) to comment on the movie. This intrusion evokes a touch of nostalgia in this effort aimed primarily at the younger children. Indeed, the gags and dialogue are rather juvenile in appeal, and the voices on the soundtrack can be jarring at times. If the film-makers had meant to capture the mood and style of P. Ramlee's childhood (circa 1940?), then they are spot on. The kampung scenes also evoke a sense of nostalgia and there are even scenes and musical scores that recall Ramlee's classics like "Bujang Lapok" and "Laksamana Do Re Mi".

Among the gags in the movie, the most inspired are Ramlie's dream sequences that spoof the Tarzan, Indiana Jones and "The Titanic" movies. It is just too bad that Indiana Jones and "The Titanic" came way after the time of Teuku Zakaria Teuku Nyak Puteh (the real name of P. Ramlee) and as such, they could not have been in his consciousness. Also, those who expect to find insights into the lives of the three movie legends would be disappointed. The movie is only a kiddie adventure with its main highlight on a football match between Ramlie's school, Sekolah Kampong Sebatang Pinang, and Sekolah Kampong Semerah Padi, the reigning champion.
THE LOWDOWN: "Budak Lapok" is scheduled for the coming Hari Raya Aidilfitri. It should be a nice festive treat for the kids.


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