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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » We Are Family
We Are Family
Tai Seng // Unrated // January 27, 2009
List Price: $14.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Francis Rizzo III | posted January 29, 2009 | E-mail the Author
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In 10 Words or Less
Hack comedy is not exclusive to America

Reviewer's Bias*
Loves: Out-there comedies
Likes: Asian cinema
Dislikes: Most comedies where the star plays several roles
Hates: The idea of "wacky" comedy

The Movie
Hoo boy. Where do I begin? This is one of the odder films I've seen come out of the East, coming across like an Asian version of "Date Movie," with take-offs of popular romantic-comedy storylines built around a loosely structured skeleton of a plot.

Kit is a young executive with a health supplement company whose career and personal life have come to a shared crossroads. After asking his stewardess girlfriend Fung to marry him several times, only to be rebuffed again and again, he's got extra reason to make it happen, because he's up for a major promotion likely to go to a family guy. His all-out proposal goes well, but before they can wed, he's got to get the approval of her family. Cue the wacky family hijinks.

As with most films of this type, the Meet the Parents genre of relationship movies, Fung's family is uniformly insane and overly protective of their sweet daughter, and Kit is willing to put up with just about anything, though at least there's some real tangible motivation for him to stand up to the abuse heaped upon him. Among Kit's obstacles are an aggressive grandmother, a data-focused father and an oddball witch doctor uncle (all played by legendary Chinese singer Alan Tam, channeling the worst, over-the-top comedic instincts of Eddie Murphy.) Each puts the young man through the ringer worse than anything Ben Stiller faced on his quest for acceptance.

We Are Family isn't satisfied with offering up just one hack rom-com storyline though, pitting Kit's romance with Fung against his career, by making his company a competitor to one in Fung's family. From there, the level of ridiculousness just climbs to the point where it feels more like a sitcom than a film (especially once the climax, straight out of old live-action Disney flicks, arrives.) It's certainly a matter of taste, but even as a fan of The Bellboy, this movie is too bold and wacky. On the plus side, there are some touches of style, like when kung-fu film techniques are integrated into a very non-Kung-Fu film. If some of the wackiness could have been reined in, and the story streamlined, there's some potential here, but as it stands, it's a pretty messy affair.

The DVD
A one-disc release, this DVD is packed in a clear, single-width keepcase that oddly has two disc wells, and features an animated, anamorphic widescreen menu offering options to play the film, select scenes, adjust languages and check out the extras. Audio options include Cantonese Chinese Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 tracks and a Mandarin Chinese Dolby Digital 5.1 track, while subtitles are available in Traditional and Simplified Chinese and poorly translated English. It's not hard to follow the story, but the many flubs in grammar will pull you right out of the movie.

The Quality
The anamorphic widescreen transfer on this film, which shows black bars on all four sides, doesn't look too great, starting with the jitter in the frame that's frequently obvious, the excessive grain and overall soft image. I don't know why a film made in 2006 looks worse than most '80s films, but this movie is certainly not a looker, even before you take into account all the dirt and damage seen throughout the film. The only solid positive is a lack of digital artifacts.

The audio gets a much better presentation, with the DTS track displaying the usual advantages over the Dolby Digital track, but both are impressive, with some strong distribution of sound effects to the sides and rear, which enhance the wackier moments in the film, while the music gets a bump from the surrounds as well. The audio, mainly he dialogue, is a bit hollow compared to most Hollywood films, but it's not too hard to get the idea of what's going on.

The Extras
Aside from a handful of trailers, including one for this film, there's a rather extensive 23-minute making-of featurette, with interviews with the cast and footage of the make-up work done for the film, but unfortunately it doesn't come with subtitles, so I had no idea what they were talking about, thus defeating the point of an extra.

The Bottom Line
If you like stupid, mindless comedy taken to a wacky extreme, and get a kick out of reading poorly translated dialogue, this might just be the movie for you. But for the majority of the English-speaking audience here, this film goes right in the "Oh those silly foreigners" file, where it might get a few laughs, but doesn't get much notice otherwise. The DVD presentation doesn't help much either, pairing solid audio withsub-par video and extras you can't enjoy without fluency in Chinese. Look elsewhere if you want to enjoy a fun-filled foreign romp.


Francis Rizzo III is a native Long Islander, where he works in academia. In his spare time, he enjoys watching hockey, writing and spending time with his wife, daughter and puppy.

Check out 1106 - A Moment in Fictional Time or his convention blog called Conning Fellow


*The Reviewer's Bias section is an attempt to help readers use the review to its best effect. By knowing where the reviewer's biases lie on the film's subject matter, one can read the review with the right mindset.

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