Thursday, March 10th, 2011
Just the other day, it occurred to me that 1990s era Stephen Chow films are a lot like eating at McDonald’s. To those of you out there who despise Ray Kroc’s ubiquitous fast food franchise, my comparison may sound like I’m criticizing the most prolific period of the famous comedian’s acting career. But I’m not. This may come as a shock to my more health-conscious, organic-only, vegetarian-meet-vegan friends, but I actually like eating at McDonald’s…on occasion. Yeah, it ain’t fine dining, and it’s certainly not good for you, but if prepared right, it sure can be really, really comforting.
Now, if you’re someone who frequents this eating establishment, then you’re aware that 99% of the time you know exactly what to expect from your order — whatever the quality, there will be no real surprises. In the hands of a particularly efficient and conscientious staff, your food will taste fantastic, complete with crisp, perfectly salted fries and an extraordinarily refreshing ice cold Coca Cola to wash ‘em down with. In the hands of a lazy, incompetent group of workers, however, you’re likely to be stuck with soggy, bland fries and some seriously watered down soft drinks. The meal is the same, but the taste can differ, depending on who’s preparing the food.
I think the same can be said of Stephen Chow’s prolific film output during the 1990s. You’ll get exactly what you’re looking for in most of his films from that era, but — depending on the filmmakers involved — the final product will vary in quality. His movies may not always be high art and some may indeed be the cinematic equivalent to “empty calories,” but when all is said and done, I think Chow’s comedy stylings amount to nothing less than comfort food for the soul.