Wednesday, May 09, 2012

GHOST BUDDIES - Pathetic Excuse for a Comedy

GHOST BUDDIES (comedy in Hokkien and Mandarin)
Cast: Mark Lee, Maggie Shiu Mei Kei, Vivian Tok, Lim Ching Miau, Wee Kheng Ming and Chow Kee Moo
Director: Simon Sek
Screenplay: NA
Time: 95 mins
Rating:  *  1/2 (out of 4)

Maggie Shiu and Mark Cheng in Ghost Buddies

PREAMBLE: Where is Jack Neo when we need him? The Singapore film-maker and director works best with Mark Cheng and Henry Thia in comedies dealing with 'kiasu' Singapore and Malaysia. As the main star of Ghost Buddies, a pathetic spoof shot entirely in the Klang Valley, Mark Cheng looks lost and ineffective. Very few of the gags work - and there was nary a laugh among viewers at the media screening in KL.

Indeed, this one is the pits, even for die-hard fans of Cheng and his Hong Kong co-star Maggie Shiu who is largely wasted in this unfunny film.

Lim Ching Miau and Maggie Shiu
WHAT'S IT ABOUT? Cheng plays geeky loser Ah Hui, a funeral parlour assistant who lives with his sister (Vivian Tok) and her family. At work, Ah Hui is secretly in love with his boss Bao Zhu (or Pearl, played by Maggie Shiu) but she has the hots for handsome salesman Chao Ren (Wee Kheng Ming). One day, out of the blue, Ah Hui finds himself communicating with his 'clients' - the dead people.

What is worse is that these stiffs - a suicide lass named Miao Miao (Lim Ching Miau), gambling addict Ah Hu (Lenny Ooi) and sentimental old Uncle Wang (Chow Kee Moo) - all have unfinished business in the living world and they want Ah Hui to help them with their quests. 

A graveyard scene

HITS & MISSES: As the title suggests, Ghost Buddies is supposed to be a dark comedy but it turns out to be neither scary nor funny. In fact the movie's tone seems to have been set in an opening scene at a restaurant which has Ah Hui explaining his work as a mortician to a couple of queasy women and sends them leaving hastily without touching the food. Similarly, Ghost Buddies is a put-off because its gags are utterly childish and silly.

No one has been named as writer of the screenplay in the production notes and I can only guess that the predictable and inane script is done by a 'committee' that rehashes ideas and gags from other comedies. From this film it is obvious that Mark Cheng is unable to carry or sustain a film and Maggie Shiu's talents and experience as an actress are sinfully underutilised. She has a scene where she is supposed to do a sexy pole dance to seduce a guy. That scene is as seductive as a dead fish!    

THE LOWDOWN: Lame, tame and what a shame!


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