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We Are Family


Hacken Lee and Alan Tam
Year: 2006
Director: Lo Kim-Wah
Producer: Clifton Ko Chi-Sum, Clarence Yip, Jiang Toa, Cao Biao, Chan Pui-Yin, Tse Saw-Yam
Writer: Pauline Yu, Choi Miu-Suet
Cast: Alan Tam Wing-Lun, Hacken Lee Hak-Ken, Hu Jing, Joey Leung Wing-Chung, Law Koon-Lan, Clifton Ko Chi-Sum, Ng Hui, Jeff Wang, Particia Mok Siu-Ling, Bey Logan
The Skinny: A Hong Kong variation on Meet the Parents, except with plenty of cultural references and Alan Tam in four roles. For what it is, We Are Family can occasionally amuse. However, if you don't like Alan Tam, then that amusement can easily become anger.
by Kozo:

Hacken Lee must meet the parents in the 2006 comedy We Are Family. Lee is Kit, a rising manager who aims to be his company's next CEO. When his boss (Bey Logan) tells him he's a candidate for promotion, he also hints that it would be best for him to get married, because married men are stable and make better CEOs. Or so they say. Kit promptly proposes to his longtime girlfriend Fong (Hu Jing, who played the evil restauranteur in Drink-Drank-Drunk), who gives a conditional yes.

The condition: Kit must meet and win the approval of her various family members, including Grandma (Alan Tam in heavy makeup), Dad (Alan Tam in a white wig), Mom (Law Koon-Lan), and her Older Brother (Alan Tam with a fake gut). Somewhere in there, Kit also must meet Fong's younger brother (Alan Tam again), as well as her nanny (Joey Leung Wing-Chung in drag), and various other people who hang out around her obviously eccentric family. Kit is game because he wants to rise in his company's ranks and solidify his position as a power player. Oh yes, he's also doing it because he loves Fong. Can he make her family love him?

Duh, of course he can. This is a commercial comedy and not some biting satire about the folly of man. Ergo, a happy ending is all but guaranteed. We Are Family is a throwback to the feel-good Cantonese comedies of the late eighties and early nineties. Basically, take a bunch of stars, throw in romance and family complications, milk every cultural joke you can, and instruct your actors to overact accordingly. The result: 90+ minutes of easy entertainment, which hopefully engenders more actual laughs than chuckles. One can only hope.

Using the above definition, We Are Family ranks as more of a chuckle film. Some the performances amuse, including Law Koon-Lan as Fong's strangely horny mom, and Alan Tam in his quartet of roles. The cultural gags get decent mileage too; Kit must visit China, where he gets accosted by the locals and fed all sorts of gnarly stuff that would make the uninitiated puke their guts. Major plot kicks in when Kit visits Fong's older brother, who runs a Chinese medicine shop in Singapore. His shop is about to get a new competitor, which is financed by Kit's company and endorsed by a charlatan Buddhist doctor (Clifton Ko). This leads to Three's Company-style situation comedy and even more scenes of Alan Tam overacting. It's like comedy Heaven.

Or not. As mentioned before We Are Family is more benign than balls-out hilarious, and is ultimately tolerable stuff for those predisposed to seeing stuff like this. What the film isn't is particularly noteworthy, and the cast doesn't do a lot to shore things up. Hacken Lee is probably only interesting to die-hard Hong Kong entertainment fans - and that's more for his singing than acting prowess. Alan Tam mugs up a storm in his four roles, and generally does a decent job, though his pronounced overacting occasionally crosses the line into annoying. Director Lo Kim-Wah strings things together with muted sitcom finesse, such that the whole thing registers as neither necessary or bothersome. This is just standard fluff with little or no planning or pretension, and it does its job well enough that knocking it for its lack of accomplishment would be unduly harsh. They used to make a trillion movies like this is Hong Kong. One more on the pile certainly doesn't hurt. (Kozo 2006)

Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Universe Entertainment
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles

image courtesy of Universe Entertainment Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen