HELLO, MRS. MONEY (FILM REVIEW)

It’s got the twisted mishaps of Hangover, the misdemeanor of Ted, and just a touch of that Crazy Rich Asian OTT display – except all wrapped up and tied with a Mainland Chinese bow on top. Hello, Mrs Money is a non-stop madcap riot, milking each unfortunate scenario made by bad decisions. And given how tacky the trailer was, I was surprised that the movie worked.

This is definitely in part due to the cast, who through their overacting, still manage to eke out giggles from their charismatic portrayals. Newbie director Wu Yuhan managed to work through caricatures to elicit decent emotional  investment, so that the ending landed with enough punch. I would appreciate a more suitable soundtrack though, as opposed to the rowdy western numbers at the front.

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Brainy humour this is not, but flashes of wittiness surprise, and keeps the viewing enjoyable as the jokes shuttle rapidly through the gamut from toilet to slapstick. While this romantic comedy has quite a few quips that got lost in translation, it doesn’t affect the overall laughs.

The story is simple enough. Mrs. Money is really Monica (Celina Jade), a mysterious billionaire who is due to make a rare public appearance at a grand party for her nephew Li Cha (Song Yang), who needs her influence to win over his lover’s family. And a lot leverages on her appearance, because it turns out, everyone from the father-in-law to the brother-in-law, are on the verge of bankruptcy, and they are hoping an injection of Monica’s assets will revive their businesses.

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But Monica is no frail, hapless old lady. She turns heads effortlessly in her pure white suit, and enjoys observing the world from a distance to investigate motives. So in this case, she calls to cancel her appearance, but disguises herself as the hotel staff to gauge the intentions of the new potential relatives.

On the island, her cancellation sets off a string of frantic reactions, ending in a hilarious episode where a dedicated employee Huang (Huang Cailun) is mistaken for the enigmatic heiress. You’ll really have to watch it to see how that happens. This leads Li Cha and his brother-in-law to continue the masquerade, resulting in equal amounts of squirming and laughing. It’s not too bad a mix really.

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With all the colours, positioning, ensemble and circumstances, I wouldn’t blame you if you thought everything a little staged, because it was originally a play! But in this case, the transition didn’t feel too awkward, given how surreal the proceedings are going anyway.

While the characters like Huang, Li Cha and the father-in-laws come across crude at the first, but like the oddest dysfunctional family, they grow on you after some time. This is especially so for Huang’s impersonation of Monica. While hitting typical slapstick points at the start, the cross-dressing and voice-altering later strikes the funny bone hard, as Huang battles between the two characters in front of the entire family. I’ve never thought a phone vibration could bring a chuckle out of me.

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And yes, even though the message of “money isn’t everything” has been done to death, the way it manifests itself in Hello, Mrs. Money still makes it enjoyable. Watch the end for a particularly clever shot.

Rating: 4*

Cast aside technicalities and just enjoy the fun romp of zany antics, along with the pleasure of watching the fake Monica pull himself out of awkward situations.

First published: www.movieXclusive.com

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