Must go to Malaysia.
Must visit Malaysia as a tourist and spend money there.
Lots and lots of money.
Blargh. Excuse while I just slap my head a few times. Just have to work off that subliminal marketing ploy that just tried to pass itself off as a movie. Oh, who am I kidding, there was nothing subliminal about it. Every second shot was of the wonderful Malaysian backdrops (which do look quite wonderful) and the kind of Malaysian culture you’ll see trotted out for the tourists. So if that was the message the film was trying to get across, then it succeeds in convincing me that Malaysia is a wonderful holiday destination – as long as I spend the money and am looking to hang around the resort with an exotic backdrop.
But as a film itself, well, not quite as convinced. I suppose what really bugged me the most about the film was the lack of focus the film had. Just watching the film, I couldn’t shake the feeling I had while I was watching MI:2 – same use of shiny backdrops, a meandering and senseless plot, occasional good scene but overall quite an unsatisfying experience – and admit it, people went to see MI:2 for John Woo if nothing else (people did, right?).
But to nail down what make this fall apart for me…? For a start I suppose first of all, the blatant product placement of the entire film left a somewhat foul taste in my mouth. I’m not naive enough to not understand the importance of product placement in film making today but to proudly proclaim the fact by opening the credits with thank yous for about a minutes worth of companies just left me feeling dirty (and what better way to clean myself than in shiny Malaysia!).
But once I got past the feeling of being marketed to, the film lacks a certain coherency. The main thrust of the film was as a romantic comedy so complaints about plot would seem to belabor the obvious yet at the same I really can’t complain about it as was about as silly and pointless as they get. But I suppose the focus on the film’s backdrop left only so much time for plot development after the token action sequences and misadventures that is a staple of a Hong Kong film. Each plot element was introduced and dealt with in such a shallow manner that it really felt like we were just watching a sequence of events with the most tenuous of links.
And I think the same approach was done to the characters. They are just so shallow. None of them go through any convincing characterisation – which is often fine for supporting characters; I’m quite use to them merely having eccentric schticks and merely maintaining that for the duration of the movie. They tried somewhat with Grace but it was just so horribly done and about as convincing as the majority of fanfic out there that it’s really little wonder that the film shifts focus away from her toward the end. But the complete lack of any dimensionality in our central protagonists just doesn’t give us anything to hook onto. If I felt like being kind, I suppose I could comment about the irony of a film called Looking for Mister Perfect being populated about cardboard cut-outs but I really think I’d be pushing the limits of credibility there.
And the film really is so centered on Grace and how she just is a romantic mess, I still cannot believe that you get the unequivocal feeling that this film is a star vehicle for Andy On. I mean Shu Qi does okay with what little she had but she didn’t really put much effort there; but it seems to be Andy’s character that just has the better scenes. He is quite literally the Knight in Shining Armour that Grace pines for and there’s nothing in the film that shakes that notion off at all. As a character there is a betrayal of trust which shakes Grace’s faith a little but it is so brief that feeling of betrayal and really from the audience point of view (as long as you can follow the plot) his actions seemed justified.
So really, Looking for Mister Perfect is a real shallow piece of cinema that, unless you’re looking for a reason to go to Malaysia, will leave you feeling some what unsatisfied. It really would have been more entertaining and less offensive as a tourist documentary or something but then who’d go see that?