Friday, January 12, 2007

Movie Review: That’s The Way I Like It 3 ½ Stars

A delightfully sweet coming-of-age comedy written and directed by Glen Goei, That’s The Way I Like It is the first commercial film shot in and exported from Singapore. Written in Singlish with a distinctly non-American sense-of-humor and performed by Indonesian talent, That’s The Way I Like It is a poignant and hilarious look at the shifting cultural climate of a newly-independent Singapore.

When he isn’t working as a stock clerk at the Oriental Emporium or being the Number Two Son in his conservative family, Hock (Adrian Pang) hangs with his buddies at the bowling alley. Mostly, he fantasizes about owning a $3,000 Triumph motorcycle and being Bruce Lee. At the local moviehouse, Fist of Fury has been replaced by a film called Forever Fever. Hock begrudgingly agrees to see it and it turns out to be the retitled foreign version of Saturday Night Fever. Hock is mesmerized by Travolta’s dance moves. Travolta becomes Hock’s mentor of sorts as Hock and his childhood friend, Mei (Madeline Tan) enter a dance contest to win $5,000.

With unexpected twists, outrageous visual bits, and sly, subtle but hilarious references, That’s The Way I Like It plays like a Singaporan Woody Allen film. Kung fu, disco, trashy novels, polyester slacks, bad mustaches and blonde afros on Indonesian men all provide fodder for the screwball comedy’s string of bits. The performances are solid, terrifically underplayed by a cast of actors, many of whom are first-timers. Glen Goei’s script evokes Saturday Night Fever on a lot of levels, many scenes overt allusions to the classic film, including a hilarious dinner table scene.

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