With all the hype and promotional activities for this movie, I am pretty excited and looking forward to the movie. The trailer and the teasers look promising and potentially be a huge coming-of-age hit like Jack Neo's "I Not Stupid" and "I Not Stupid Too". Since this is a Singapore movie, the Singaporean words I will use to describe this movie is: a messed up rojak. The movie tries to incorporate too many things/issues/aspects which eventually become too messy and hastily wrapped up to fit into less than 2 hours of screen time.
Firstly we have the issue of bad parenting. Mrs Chio is an example of how parents with high expectations can drive their kids nuts and how parents should not demoralise their kids by calling them 'dumb', 'stupid', 'idiot' etc. The intention is good and everyone agrees with the points. But in the movie, when Mrs Chio repeatedly calls Jordan 'dumb', I thought it is done in a playful and joking manner instead of in a scolding or demeaning manner. Violet has a different issue with parents who have all the money in the world but not time for her and this gap is miraculously settled without any explanation with the time jump to 8 years later.
Then we have the issue of how social media affects our daily lives which I think is very relevant. We have teenagers' obsession with getting 'likes' on their social media by constantly sharing (sometimes inappropriate) things and even how parents wants to stalk their children's social media life. These issues are presented for comedy purpose and that's it.
Various types of teenage angst-issues are also presented: the nerdy boy (Royston), the pretty girl (Violet), the 'troublemaker' (Hao Ren), the bitchy classmates, etc. Sadly, the development from being 3 classmates to 1 clique is just too forced. They bond over cosplay (which I will talk about below) and suddenly everyone changes for the better: Royston is no longer socially awkward, Violet becomes less princess-y, and Hao Ren suddenly becomes a responsible young man. But their bitchy classmates remain bitchy. All does not make sense at all!!
Now comes the biggest issue with whole movie: cosplay. Despite being promoted as the first movie related to cosplay, it seems that the producer has no idea about cosplay to begin with. I am into manga, anime, and J-Pop but I am not into cosplay. What I am trying to say is cosplay is actually a niche subculture on its own. You need dedication to make your costumes and props and you need to have the confidence to 'be' the character that you are cosplaying as. It is not a HOBBY (like manga, anime, or J-pop music) that you can do as and when you are free or you feel like doing. With this is mind, it is impossible for someone to suddenly be into cosplay just to get more 'likes' on Instagram. Cosplay subculture is niche and has even less fans than the typical manga and anime fans (in fact, some anime and manga fans may actually hate cosplay) so cosplay is definitely not something you think of if you want to boost your popularity. There is hardly any scene showing the 3 main characters making their costumes which is the essence of cosplaying to begin with. The focus seems to be more on the acting part for cosplay competitions. Please visit an anime convention or something and you can tell how many people are into cosplay competitions vs people who are simply happy cosplaying. Lastly, if you really need the $1000, there are a lot of quicker ways than trying to win a cosplay competition. Seriously...
Despite all the negativities I mention above, the movie is still very funny, thanks to Henry Thia who plays Hao Lian (Hao Ren's father). Everything that he says is damn funny and although a lot of the jokes come from Singlish, Henry Thia is seriously funny and he does not need to overact to make audience laugh. Other attempts of being funny from other actors feel forced and unnatural.
Overall, I still think that the movie is quite rubbish. It feels so lazily made with no originality. They simply throw in elements which are proven effective from other movies such as currently relevant life issues and sure-funny jokes revolving around Singlish, cross-dressing, and sexual innuendos. I have to admit that the joke about the sausages and eggs is hilarious though.