Friday, October 22, 2010

CRAYON - Colourful But Rough Around The Edges

CRAYON (drama)
Cast: Hon Kahoe, Ariff Faisal Abdullah, Adibah Noor and Joshry Adamme
Director: Dean A. Burhanuddin
Script: Dean A. Burhanuddin
Time: 85 mins
Rating: * * 1/2 (out of 4)

From left: Hon Kahoe, Adibah Noor, Joshry Adamme and Ariff Faisal Abdullah,

PREAMBLE: "Life is rough around the edges, just like... CRAYON." That, ladies and gentlemen, is the rather apt tag line for this film - an effort that seems to be aimed partly at young children and partly at adolescents. Those in the know would tell you that these two segments of the movie market do not go well together - and that's what makes Crayon indecisive and 'rough around the edges' in terms of tone and box-office appeal.

For those eager for a slice of Malaysiana, however, there are a few funny moments, courtesy of the bubbly Adibah Noor...

SYNOPSIS: Adam Wan (Hon Kahoe) and Rafaat (Ariff Faisal Abdullah) are room-mates at a university in Singapore. Adam, a Chinese from Malaysia, is an Asean scholar, while Rafaat, a Singaporean Malay, is the typical computer nerd. As part of their course syllabus, they are required to volunteer for a social programme during their term holidays. The duo decide to be volunteer workers at an orphanage in the East Coast of peninsular Malaysia.

At the orphanage, they meet its kindly and jovial matron Mak Engku (Adibah Noor) and her multi-racial charges including the playful and lovable Afiq (Joshry Adamme). However, as they try their utmost to improve conditions at the home, certain forces are at work to destroy all that they and Mak Engku had worked for...

HITS AND MISSES: The movie opens at a 'university campus' in Singapore where the characters of Adam and Rafaat are duly introduced. They are typical 'spoilt brats' who think that the rural areas of Malaysia are without water and electricity - and that toilets are located outside the building. First-time director Dean A. Burhanuddin (who also wrote the script) manages to wring a few jokes out of this popular misconception. The real fun starts when we meet Mak Engku, the home's owner and caregiver whose effervescent personality and zest for life hides her weakness at financial management. Adibah Noor is in her element at a role she can play in her sleep.

The concert scene

Not so for the other leads though. Hon (who appeared in Yasmin Ahmad's Talentime) and Faisal strain to evoke their college-buddy rapport and only manage to look convincing towards the end of the movie. Joshry is cute and sometimes steals the scene. The most juvenile - and annoying - performances come from two adults who play bouncers trying to get Mak Engku to sell her home. The cry-baby schtick by one of them can only be funny to kids under five and we wonder why director Dean sees it fit to repeat the 'gag'.

Another sequence that seems to have been written for the under-fives is the concert segment where the kids sing the kindergarten number "Ibu, ibu, engkau-lah ratu hatiku". A livelier choice of song (and dance) would have helped to give more meaning to the fund-raising concert aimed at lightening the pockets of the villagers. Also, the plot about corporate greed is cliched and rather predictable but it closes well enough, with its message of hope and charity ringing clearly.

THE LOWDOWN: Rough around the edges, but colourful.


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