Sunday, February 14th, 2010
A little business to conduct before we get to the holiday festivities: My 12-year “artistes” contract with the Kozo Entertainment Group obligates me to remind you that voting is underway for the “Top Hong Kong Films of the 1990s”. Go here for details.
With Lunar New Year and Valentine’s Day falling on the same day, it’s the perfect time to release the Kozo Entertainment Group’s first feature film. It’s a holiday release called LOVE FOR HIRE. I got the idea for the movie after reading news articles about demographically-challenged Mainland males “renting” girlfriends to bring back home for Lunar New Year gatherings. Being a fan of LAW & ORDER for close to twenty years, ripping a story from the headlines came naturally. After running it up the flagpole to my superiors at the KEG, we got some funding from The Feinstein Company and the China Pajama-Producers Co-operative. Consider this our “red packet”/valentine to you …
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LOVE FOR HIRE:
A romantic comedy/drama about the lives and loves of people who work at an agency that provides fake girlfriends to guys who need someone on their arm for a social occasion. The movie has two main plots:
MAIN PLOT A: Normal but shy guy hires a girl to practice social situations with (asking her out, going on dates, etc.) because he’s in love with a hot girl in his office.
Due to his shyness, Jaycee has never dated a girl before so he wants to work out all the kinks of dating with Charlene before asking Chrissie out. Naturally, over the course of a few practice dates, Jaycee falls in love with Charlene but, because she’s only doing this to make a few dollars for a plane ticket to see her boyfriend who’s studying in Australia, he doesn’t want to admit his love — even though it’s clear she loves him back. He ends up going through with asking Chrissie out.
On his date with Chrissie, Jaycee realizes that he has to profess his love for Charlene so he races to the airport to stop her from getting on the plane to see her boyfriend for the Lunar New Year holiday. (Thus satisfying the romantic movie commandment of always having a scene where one of the main characters is racing somewhere to declare their love for someone.)
MAIN PLOT B: Widower needs to hire a fake girlfriend because his parents are flying in from Canada to visit him and his cute kid for the Lunar New Year holiday.
As Andy’s wife has been dead for four years, his parents have been on his back to get a new woman in his life and the life of their grandchild. He wants to get them off of his back so he goes to the agency to hire a woman for a Lunar New Year “performance”. He has a specific type of woman in mind so he asks to meet directly with the agency owner to pick out the right girl to play the part.
Andy and the agency owner end up meeting several times because they can’t agree on the right girl for the job. During these meetings, Andy begins to admire Michelle for her work ethic and professionalism while Michelle begins to admire Andy for his dedication to his kid, his parents and, most touchingly, his late wife (ie. I’m still in love with her, I’m not ready to find another woman).
Since Michelle knows exactly what Andy is looking for, she decides to take the job herself and, during their “show” for Andy’s parents, Andy and Michelle end up falling in love.
Besides the two main plots, the film also has three mini-plots that fill out the movie:
MINI-PLOT A: The Assistants
Stephy has been working with Ronald because Ronald’s boss (Jim Chim) is an obnoxious jerk of a tycoon who has been hiring arm candy to get photographed with in the tabloids. As the tycoon has been doing this for months, Stephy and Ronald have been talking to each other over the phone for a while. Through casual bits of conversation between making arrangements for the tycoon, Ronald starts to wonder what it’d be like to date Stephy while Stephy begins to imagine what it would be like to have Ronald as a boyfriend. Obviously, there’s mutual interest but, since they just have a professional phone relationship, neither has acted on it. One day, they happen to be in the same Starbucks and when they hear each other order, they realize who the other is and it’s the beginning of a beautiful relationship.
MINI-PLOT B: Husbands and Wives
A businessman (Donnie Yen) needs to hire a companion to sit in with him for business meetings. He wants to avoid all-night negotiation sessions that are actually just excuses for the other business guys to do heavy drinking. So, he hires a “wife” (Miriam Yeung) as an excuse to get business done quickly or to bail out of booze-soaked all-nighters. Sometimes Miriam goes with Donnie to the meetings, sometimes she calls on the phone to interrupt, sometimes she shows up to interrupt.
Donnie has been working with Miriam for months and everything is strictly platonic. However, Miriam’s husband (Eric Kot) is jealous that she’s spending all this time with Donnie. Things come to a head when Donnie invites Miriam over to his flat for Lunar New Year dinner. Eric is blind with jealousy and goes to the dinner with a chip on his shoulder. When they arrive at Donnie’s place, both Miriam and Eric are surprised to find that Donnie has a wife and two young daughters. When Donnie’s wife (Lynn Xiong), thanks Miriam for helping Donnie come home at night to be with his kids, Eric realizes the foolishness of his jealousy.
MINI-PLOT C: The Ex-Con
A guy (Nick Cheung) hires a “Mainland” girlfriend to bring home to his parents for Lunar New Year. He’s been telling his parents that he’s been away “on business” in the Mainland for the past three years but, in actually, he’s been rotting in jail after being framed by a former friend for a crime he did not commit.
Vicki Zhao misses her own family back in China so she feels kind of sad to see this sham of a Lunar New Year gathering. Nick Cheung feels the emptiness as well. After the dinner, Vicki Zhao tells Nick Cheung to be straight with his parents, she points out that they may be more understanding than Nick Cheung thinks. This story ends with Nick Cheung coming clean and truly reconciling with his family.
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I think that’s enough plot for a 90 to 120 minute movie. What do you think? Even with stiff competition from 72 TENANTS OF PROSPERITY and ALL’S WELL THAT END’S WELL 2010, this makes HK$10 million - no?
Now, as the late-Michael Jackson said repeatedly in THIS IS IT, I wrote this story out of “love” for the readers who have been reading my nonsense over the years. As I said earlier, it was my “red packet”/valentine to the readers. It’ll be upsetting if some knock off, possibly called LOVE FOR RENT, pops up in the Lunar New Year 2011 movie slate. It’ll be especially upsetting if the knock off includes stories about a shy guy, a widower, a jealous husband, an obnoxious tycoon, assistants and an ex-con. Not only will it upset me, it’ll upset the mighty KEG, the Feinstein Company and the China Pajama-Producers Co-operative. Most people know better than to upset the CPC - especially in China.
To avoid all the nastiness, get in touch with me. My demands may be as simple as a cameo role as one of the business guys at a Donnie Yen business meeting or the barista who hands Stephy Tang her latte at Starbucks.
All right … time for the traditional House Where Words Gather Lunar New Year greeting. As you can tell from years past (Ox, Rat), my wishes for all of you are less grandiose than unimaginable wealth. Sticking with that tradition, I’m going to channel Dan Rather and Al Pacino by wishing you:
I’m hoping that the Year of the Tiger gives you courage to make improvements in your life. May you find the courage to inch your way towards greater happiness be it finding the guts to ask that cute girl out, the courage to find a better job or the cojones to change an unhappy circumstance in your life.
And, as always, 身體健康! Happy Year of the Tiger!