I first saw Shaheizy Sam in Bohsia and Syurga Cinta, and while both movies were pretty goddamn terrible, I was quite impressed by him. In Bohsia at least - his role in the other was too minor - he had decent screen presence, as well as an aptitude for chewing scenery that bordered on watchable. (Like I said, it was pretty goddamn terrible.) I didn't know at the time that he's actually a newcomer to the local movie scene. So now he's in a lead role, a romantic and comedic lead at that, and I was looking forward to it; it'd be nice to see him play an ostensibly likable character for a change. Even if it's in what looks like another godawful mat rempit movie.
Yes, he was good. The movie itself? I liked it too. OMGWTFBBQLOL!
Adnan (Shaheizy Sam) is a lowly dispatch rider with a crush on his boss Nadia (Intan Ladyana), who is wealthy, career-minded, and completely out of his league. He spends his nights hanging out with his fellow mat rempit Bobby (Along Raja Lawak) at his cousin Macha's (Cat Farish) warong. He gets his chance when Nadia asks him to pose as her boyfriend for a reunion party that she's throwing; and as they grow closer, Bobby and Nadia's PA Wawa (Norliana Samsudin) begin their own unlikely romance. But class prejudices - not to mention Adnan's own hot-headedness - threaten to tear Adnan and Nadia apart, more so when Jofri (Zack X-Factor), an old friend of Nadia's, becomes a rival for her affections.
Yes, I said I liked it. And believe me, no one's more surprised than I am. I don't really believe in grading local movies on a curve; I don't think I'm obliged to judge them by a lesser standard than I do any other movie, including Hollywood films. We may not have their budget or their production values, but plot, characters and dialogue don't cost a thing to write, do they? But as I have previously mentioned, the fact that a Malaysian movie set in Malaysia featuring Malaysian characters makes Malaysian audiences more forgiving of it - so long as it's halfway decent to begin with. Adnan Sempit is at least halfway decent, so I guess I am grading it on a curve after all. I'm willing to forgive its faults based on its strengths.
F'rinstance - it's funny. There are many jokes that don't work (any scene with Cat Farish) and a few that only raised a chuckle (a guy played by Angah Raja Lawak, whose perpetual hogging of Macha's karaoke set acts as a sort of Greek chorus to the plot), but there's plenty of genuinely witty dialogue through it all. And Ahmad Idham's direction displays some decent comic timing, which was my biggest surprise - this is the guy who directed my only one-star movie after all. Maybe he was hobbled by the fact that Syurga Cinta was a remake of another film, or maybe he's just better at comedy than drama. (Or maybe he just has a better editor this time.)
And then there's the storyline - which, yes, is totally cribbed from The Proposal. (Although it's not like that movie is damn original either la.) But at least it's sensibly executed. Both Adnan and Nadia have to adjust to each other, and both have to prove themselves to each other; Adnan heroically saves the day for her, and Nadia gets past her snap judgement of him as "sampah masyarakat". Which is precisely what an opposites-attract romance, or in this case an antara-dua-darjat romance, is all about. (It's also where Syurga Cinta went wrong.) Of course, it'd be nice if there were some actual romantic chemistry between them. There isn't, which is why Idham plays it all for laughs, but at least there are laughs.
Throughout the whole movie I was waiting for it to go wrong - for its depiction of Nadia to take an ugly turn into misogyny, or for someone to do something facepalmingly stupid. And it never did. When Adnan slugs another mat rempit for getting gatal with Nadia, she gets upset, and he's immediately apologetic. When a Datuk - who has a tender that Nadia is pitching for - catches her with Adnan, he tells her that her personal life won't affect her chances with the tender. When Bobby sees a bunch of mat rempits gawking over a laptop that has pictures of Nadia in it, he immediately deduces that they stole it from her, and tells Adnan. Masya'allah, some actual intelligence in a Malay movie! A mat rempit movie pulak tu!
Shaheizy Sam really is good in this; he could've done a Que Haidar in Duhai Si Pari-Pari, but he keeps his performance grounded, knowing that he also has serious scenes to pull off. He's definitely another actor I'll be expecting good things from in the future. (Check him out in this trailer - dude looks badass.) On the other hand, Intan Ladyana is stiff, and it's because of her that the romance in this romantic comedy doesn't work. Along Raja Lawak could've been annoying, but luckily for him Norliana Samsudin is very cute and quite fun to watch. (Oh, and they have a subplot about a snatch thief who stole Wawa's handbag, then got run over by a car and beheaded. It's gruesome and in poor taste and I really shouldn't have found it funny, but I did, sial.) Zack X-Factor plays an utterly loathsome scumbag - his performance is really lebih, but hey, it's a mat rempit movie.
A very successful mat rempit movie at that, and deservedly so I'd say. Aside from a rom-com, it's also a spirited defence of mat rempits as guys who just like to hang out with their bikes, not all of whom are thugs and snatch thieves - although there are "black hat" rempits, and the one time Adnan and Bobby go to a street race, they run afoul of a police roadblock. (Bobby gets a hilarious line about how rempits and lokap are "bagaikan aur dengan tebing".) Of course Malays want to watch a movie like this, instead of something like Bohsia that actually insults them. Now don't get me wrong, this isn't, like, a really good movie or anything; it stands out more for where it avoids going wrong rather than the things it does right. But hey - we're grading on a curve here.
NEXT REVIEW: I oso dunno la. What to watch ar?