Monday, October 01, 2018

Fat Buddies

Quick, what's the last Sunday movie release you can remember? I couldn't think of any besides the ones that come out on Christmas on years when December 25th falls on a Sunday, so seeing this thing scheduled for a 30 September release was odd, like it was trying to sneak into theaters without thoe who just check what's opening Friday saying "AMC has booked what?" But, of course, it turns out that it's more like the Christmas situation - 30 September is National Memorial Day in China (with 1 October National Day), and that's evidently a big day for seeing movies Zhang Yimou's Shadow and Chow Yun-fat in Project Gutenberg, also came out that day, but they won't get the day-and-date release in the USA (Shadow looks like "sometime in the fall", while Gutenberg just waits until Friday).

It's not very good, at all, and a real step down after seeing a new 70mm print of 2001 earlier in the day. On the other hand, it's not quite the abomination it looks like, which has its good and bad points. I suspect that we'll have more to talk about in regard to its fat-suit antics in a few months, when Donnie Yen's version of Enter the Fat Dragon hits.

Pan Zi Xinh Dong Dui (Fat Buddies)

* * (out of four)
Seen 30 September 2018 in AMC Boston Common #18 (first-run, DCP)

I'm not going to lie - I was expecting something mind-bogglingly awful out of Fat Buddies, a Chinese spy spoof whose two main characters are played by guys wearing fat suits, and to find it just kind of tacky but with enough good jokes to not feel like a complete waste of time is kind of disappointing - one kind of wants to see it proved that a bad idea leads to bad results. Sure, it's also something of a relief, in that getting some laughs for the price of a ticket is better than none, but the movie as a whole still seems like a bad idea.

It opens with Hao (Bao Bai-er), a 145 kg security guard who works as a security guard in a Tokyo hospital, the butt of jokes from his co-workers and disdain from the hospital's dean (Yasuaki Kurata). He's been big all his life, but he's just met someone fatter: A patient calling himself "J" (Wen Zhang), 150 kg, prone to narcolepsy, who claims to be a secret agent. Hao helps him sneak out of the hospital and tries to help him on his mission to investigate philanthropist Mai (Guo Jingfei) who is secretly also a drug dealer, despite J not feeling like he needs any assistance at all.

Stars Bao Bai-er and Wen Zhang are not 300 pounds each in reality, so there in fat suits and prosthetic makeup of varying quality (there are some scenes where it actually looks like there's been some weird CGI done to Bao's face to smooth it out), and I'm curious how awareness of that plays into how one views the movie. Both are fairly big stars in China, which means that every scene they're in is implicitly playing "look at these good looking guys - only fat!" as a joke, at best self-deprecating but at worst little more than cruel. One wonders how this movie would play if actors who didn't have to be padded out were cast - would there be pushback against some of the cheaper jokes, or at the least less whiplash between "fatties huffing and puffing" and "fatties doing something impossible athletic" bits? Maybe not, but there are scenes that suggest a story about a guy who has made some amount of peace with his size helping out a guy who still thinks of himself as thin, and there's more potential in that than just laughing at how ridiculous these guys look in fat suits.

Full review at EFC.

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