Andartu Terlampau... 21 Hari Mencari Suami
You know what's the hardest thing about watching crappy Malay movies? It's not the actual watching of them, to be honest. Yes, the experience can be teeth-pullingly painful, but it usually only lasts ninety minutes to two hours. The hardest thing is trying to figure out what to write about them afterwards. Eventually they all just blur together into the same old moronic dialogue, incoherent storyline, schtick acting and unfunny jokes. Sometimes I like to take a page out of Roger Ebert's book and talk about the wider issues that the film raises, instead of the film proper.
Other times I just do a running list of all the movie's stupidities. This one, f'rinstance, has plenty.
Nik Melati Sukma (Haliza Misbun) - who prefers to be called Nikki - is unlucky in love. Her parents (Maimon Mutalib and Datuk Jalaluddin Hasan) want her to get married, but despite a parade of prospective suitors - geeky Ayob (Azhar Sulaiman), macho Omar Shariff (Fahrin Ahmad), psychiatrist Dr. Ryan Diprojo (Ari Wibowo), much-older Dr. Sheikh Muzaffar (Dato' Rahim Razali), two-timing Jamil (Azizi "Chunk" Adnan), egotistical Putera Aziz Al-Biruni (Awie) and much-younger Jeremy (Fizo Omar) - none of them herald wedding bells for Nikki. So after a lot of faffing around, her parents give her a 21-day deadline to find a husband, and she spends most of that time faffing around even more.
Is this film supposed to be Haliza Misbun's big comeback vehicle? 'Cos according to her profile on Sinema Malaysia, she's not made a movie since 1996 (although she might have been doing TV dramas in the meantime). If it is, then damn Cik Haliza, you picked the absolute wrong screenwriter and director. Sophia J. Rhyland's script is fundamentally incompetent at delivering humour, romance, sympathetic and/or believable characters, or even narrative focus of any kind. For Allah knows what reason, the movie starts with Nikki in her teens (sporting a butt-ugly afro), then fast-forwards to 15 years later in which basically nothing has changed. It isn't till fully halfway in that Nikki's parents deliver the 21-day ultimatum that is the entire premise of the story. There's virtually no plot, just a lot of the aforementioned faffing about, during which Nikki is stupid and indecisive and dicks around with her parents and her various suitors. And who's the guy she chooses in the end? Spoiler alert: it's someone who literally appears out of the blue. Aiyoo, movie, what laa??
Din CJ's direction is equally incompetent. Guy wouldn't know comic timing if it bit him in the ass, and the movie has to resort to cartoon sound effects - yes, cartoon sound effects - to draw laughs. And was he responsible for the moronic continuity errors? I counted two: at one point, Nikki starts up a dating service called "Andartu Dot Com", but we see those words on Nikki's office wall before she even got the idea. And then we see Nikki and Omar going on a date, and it isn't a minute later that we get a scene in which they run into each other for supposedly the first time in years. There's a pointless musical montage that actually goes a step beyond pointless - it spends its chunk of screentime replaying previous scenes. And finally, this movie also features the ubiquitous nightclub scene common to soooo many Malay movies, in which we are meant to shake our heads at all this gejala pergaulan bebas diantara jantina. Yeah right, sedangkan engko selaku pengarah yang cast awek muda dalam scene ni, bagi diorang pakai baju ketat dan mendedahkan kulit, dan suruh diorang menari seksi seseksi-seksinya. Hypocrite.
Then again, it may not be fair to lay all the blame on Din and Rhyland, since Haliza - as executive producer - clearly has her fingers all over this movie. (She also takes credit for "idea/cerita asal".) But frankly, I'm kinda inclined to think kindly of her. The fact that this is her comeback to movies may explain why she tries really, really hard in her performance - way too hard. (Goddamn, these things really do happen in twos.) No, it's not a good performance at all; bad enough that her character is horribly written and comes across as a thoroughly dislikable bitch (who nevertheless has men falling all over her. Mary Sue much?), she also has a horrible tendency to deliver her lines in an ear-splitting screech. But I think if she can channel that... um, enthusiasm... into a role that genuinely shows off her talent and screen presence, she could do well. After all, I've always taken the position that we've got good actors but terrible directors, writers and producers, and it's the latter bunch that are most responsible for shitty movies.
Then again, Haliza is the producer on this thing. She's most likely the one who decided to put Abby Abadi and Erra Fazira in this movie for possibly no other reason than that they are her BFFs, even though their roles are completely superfluous. (Erra fares better because she's playing a broad caricature; Abby is kayu nak mampus.) And does Dato' Rahim Razali have financial problems? Is he desperate for cash? Why else would he take on so many stupid roles in crap movies in which he can only give terrible performances? This is what happens when our film industry can only produce stupid comedies made by idiots who can barely write and/or film a proper joke; actors of Rahim's and Datuk Jalaluddin Hasan's stature, who deserve to be in serious dramatic roles that showcase their gravitas, are instead forced to indignify themselves doing silly comic schticks. I'm sure you guys got bills to pay, but good God, tak malu ke??
Still, Cik Haliza has my sympathies - which is a pretty neat trick, considering the character she plays in this film does not. This is a terribly misguided movie, in which all of its star's talent, effort and energy went completely to waste; quite sad, since she obviously put a lot of herself into it. So here's hoping she makes more movies, takes a more hands-off approach as producer, and finds herself a better director and screenwriter. (Um, good luck with that.) And I also hope she stops having to fend off all the tohmahan about her low-cut outfits in this film. Korang ni jakun ke, tak pernah tengok cleavage perempuan? It was nice cleavage too. Appreciate lah sket.
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