Lu Pikirlah Sendiri de Movie
"Lu pigi mampuslah." That's the headline I was all set to give my review of this movie. But much as I love my movie title-based headline puns - I'm all about that, yo - I have to admit that Lu Pikirlah Sendiri de Movie doesn't deserve such nastiness. It's actually not as bad as most other Malay movies I've seen. TMBF is fair, and if there is yang jernih didalam yang keruh, then I'm not gonna throw away the whole belanga.
Even though it's not exactly nila setitik in this belanga. More like nila setong.
Nabil (Ahmad Nabil Ahmad) struggles to hold down a job and support his family, which includes his mother (Liza Othman) and younger sister Aishah (Mila). On weekdays he's a despatch rider at an office, and develops a crush on the cute receptionist Syarifah (Ummi Nazeera); on weekends he learns the mechanic trade at a workshop; and at night he helps his friend Man (Md. Eyzendy) sell kuey teow at a pasar malam. One day he meets spoiled rich girl Natasya (Puteri Sarah Liyana), and it's hate at first sight - but she also happens to be a university student and friend of Nabil's old schoolmate Zizan (Zizan Raja Lawak). Something about him gets under her skin, and soon deeper feelings begin to develop between the two.
Look at that poster up there. Yes, that's Nabil, but the girl he's with is not Natasya, the ostensible romantic female lead. (Good thing, otherwise this movie'd be pedo-creepy.) That's his sister Aishah, who's only a tangential character in the movie, but she's in the poster because Mila is also known as Mila AF5 and supposedly quite the "artis meletup". That's emblematic of the whole movie, whose biggest problem is that it doesn't know what the hell it's doing. And poor Puteri Sarah Liyana gets robbed of the exposure she would've gotten from being on the poster of the movie of which she is the star.
The storyline is, to put it kindly, totally hampeh. There are way too many subplots - Natasya has a best friend named Dana (Tasha) whose boyfriend Zizan is two-timing her with some other chick (Nurul Ain); and he has another friend (Azwan Kombos) who seems to have a thing for Natasya; and there's some jealousy going on between Dana and Natasya as well; and just for giggles, there's a security guard (Ebby Yus) at the university with a crush on a lecturer (Vanidah Imran). None of these are developed to any satisfying degree - and they shouldn't even be there in the first place, 'cos kan Nabil hero movie ni? And speaking of which - first time we see Nabil, he's at home with his mum. A good 20 minutes later, we're like, eh, he has a sister. And it's not till the last half hour that we find out he also has an ailing father, and an older brother who literally comes out of nowhere for an entirely new plot twist. Dear Madam Writer-Director Aminah Rhapor, kenapa tak introduce diorang awal-awal??
I swear, it's like they shot this film with a couple dozen script pages missing. Another example is when Nabil visits Natasya at her house. How did he know where she lives? And why is he just tetiba sitting on her porch swing strumming a guitar like a freakin' ninja? The whole movie is full of WTF like this, and it all points to the fact that Aminah doesn't have a goddamn clue how to tell a coherent story. It's probably also why this has the most egregious overuse of slow-motion I've ever seen in a single movie. Saja-saja bubuh slo-mo. Main lantak je slo-mo. Slo-mo yang takde kena-mengena dengan apa-apa pun, except to pad out the running time. Tulah, mesti skrip diorang ada pages yang hilang entah gi mana. As a matter of fact, I took note of the editor of this thing - dude's name is Mat Salleh Mat Desa - in case it's dia punya angkara instead of Aminah. No matter whose it is, it's memang WTF giler.
So why does this movie not deserve to pigi mampus? Because of its lead actors. I've seen Nabil in minor roles in Pisau Cukur and Momok The Movie, and wasn't impressed in the slightest - but here, he proves deserving of the career boost he got after winning Raja Lawak 2. He has an easy-going charm that's terrific at winning the audience's sympathy, and he proves up to the task when things get dramatic. In fact, since this movie is sort of a biopic of Nabil's pre-big break life, he could've very well come across as a blatant Gary Stu - but although this depiction of him gets pretty fawning, he's never unlikable. Also good is Puteri Sarah Liyana. Pretty young starlets like her tend to be wooden (*coughFashaSandhacough*), but Sarah tackles her rich bitch character with gusto. The best thing about both of them is that they have chemistry. Their bickering is fun to watch, and there's plenty of entertainingly snarky dialogue for them to deliver.
It's too bad then that their romance, like every other aspect of the storyline, sucks. But even then, there's some wheat in this chaff. After their first inauspicious encounter, in which Nabil berates her for being bitchy and spoiled and useless, she literally starts stalking him. She goes looking for him at all his workplaces (how does she know where he works? Entahlah beb) just to pick fights with him. Yes, it sounds pretty stupid, but I actually believed it; their first meeting comes right after a scene where her lecturer gives her a pretty harsh talking-to over her failing grades. So she comes across as someone who's not at all happy with who she is, and that's why she fixates on Nabil as a scapegoat for her own guilt and shame. Profound siut! Now mind you, I don't believe for a second that Aminah planned this. 'Cos her romance with Nabil does not turn out to be the catalyst for her self-realization. That's the kind of story that's way beyond Aminah's miniscule talents.
Sigh. Once again, decent actors are let down by a sucky script and a boneheaded director. And both Nabil and Sarah have publicly griped about it too. (Not very professional, but quite understandable. And goddamn it Utusan Malaysia, don't try to turn this into a feud between Sarah and Mila!) Oh, and I oughta mention the presence of pop-rock band Meet Uncle Hussain, who makes this the second Malay movie in a row that has a musical Greek chorus - and they're a damn sight easier on the ears than the karaoke stylings of Angah Raja Lawak. I like their songs, and I think the soundtrack brought a great deal to the emotional effectiveness of this movie. And it is effective, at parts, enough to make me consider giving it an extra half-star. But the parts that are fail are truly epic fail. It's okay, Nabil dan Sarah; I'll be looking forward to your next movies. Just stay the hell away from Aminah Rhapor.
NEXT REVIEW: The Wolfman
Expectations: looking forward to it