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Source:  http://www.bangkokpost.com/entertainment/movie/34699/wrong-place-wrong-time

Wrong place, wrong time

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Entertainment » Movie

Wrong place, wrong time

  • Published: 19/03/2010 at 12:00 AM
  • Newspaper section: Realtime

Released against a backdrop of bloody unrest, GTH's latest bit of bland escapism seems more inconsequential than ever.

The Little Comedian focuses too much on the boy-crush angle and leaves the more intriguing father-son relationship underexplored.

Ban Chan (The Little Comedian)

Starring Chawin Likhitchaorenpong, Jaturong Jokmok, Paula Taylor. Directed by Witthaya Thongyuyong and Mes Tharatorn. In Thai with English subtitles.

It wouldn't be too harsh to say that Ban Chan (The Little Comedian) is just another GTH movie - kinda warm, kinda cute, kinda long, blankly optimistic and absolutely inconsequential.

The movie happened to open in a week when the streets of Bangkok were awash with blood, and its summery attitude looks and sounds alien, like Hello Kitty lost in Apocalypse Now. But even as a distraction - something to take our mind off the confusion, something proudly, ignorantly apolitical - it doesn't much succeed in burying agony under laughter.

Because there's never real agony in a film by studio GTH, a profitable, serviceable gathering of talented directors who transform cinema completely into bourgeois fantasy (examples from last year, Dear Galileo, Bangkok Traffic Love Story, Best of Times). I repeat again what I wrote before: there's nothing wrong with that. GTH's popular movies contribute a lot to an industry plagued by uncertainty and shamelessness.

Only that sometimes I wonder, when the winds are raging, which is most of the time lately, if it's still possible for personal, reflective cinema to exist when it seems that commercial Thai films are now made through executive decisions by board members of a company, like when they make detergents, or chairs.

Everything is good and everything is pre-destined to produce laughter or happy tears (only happy tears). The Little Comedian paints a daydream vision of a family life in a province; the movie is set in Lop Buri, or a nostalgic, photogenic dimension of the place. The story is centred on 12-year-old Tock (Chawin Likhitchaorenpong), son of a quick-witted gagsmith, Plern (Jaturong Mokjok). Plern heads a comedy troupe that tours local restaurants playing what many term low-brow jokes - rowdy wordplay, slap-sticky shenanigans and garish cross-dressing - and Plern wants Tock, his eldest, to be his heir apparent.

But Tock is so not funny; the running joke in The Little Comedian is that we should laugh when Tock is unable to make his audience laugh. Hilarity isn't hereditary, incidentally. The only person who finds Tock amusing is Dr Ice (Paula Taylor), a pretty dermatologist who has a problem of her own.

As a pretext to meet the lovely acne-squeezer 12 years his senior, Tock manages to grow a prominent pimple on his milky face, and soon a bond develops between them through a walk in the market and a visit to a 69-baht barbecue pork joint.

To me, what's more interesting is the father-and-son relationship; how Tock struggles to free himself from the shadow of his funny daddy. How the boy realises that it's possible for him to grow up to be different from what his family expects him to be - and how painful and liberating that process can be. Yet the movie seems to care more about the puppy crush the young boy has for the doctor, and about reeling off verbal gags whose hit-rate is around 30 percent (and even less if you have to read the subtitles, for it's nearly impossible to translate the Thai-specific jokes into English).

Apparently The Little Comedian borrows its tone of pre-pubescent longing from the 2004 hit film Fan Chan. But since that was six years ago; it's natural that we should expect the filmmakers to have grown up, or even better, grown old. As it stands now, The Little Comedian is a long sitcom that reassures us, in a rather superficial way that bypasses all necessary arguments, that everything will be all right.

With a film like this, maybe not everything is.

Relate Search: Ban Chan, Starring Chawin Likhitchaorenpong, Jaturong Jokmok, Paula Taylor, Witthaya Thongyuyong, Mes Tharatorn

About the author

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Writer: Kong Rithdee
Position: Reporter

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