Michelle Chong is Already Famous – the movie review

Already Famous is the local movie of the moment, and also Michelle Chong’s directorial and screenplay writing debut in the Singapore movie scene. Starring as Lim Ka Kiao, a Malaysian girl from Penang who dreams of making it big as a star in Singapore, she hilariously renames herself “Zann” (Zoe + Fann) and meets with a number of rejections in the name of stardom. She finally ends up on stage at a “TV extras king award show”, which gives her her fifteen minutes of fame, and shows her where her heart really lies. That is, with the coffee shop boy Ah Seng (played by Taiwanese Alien Huang aka Xiao Gui) who had been silently rooting for her all the while.

This movie was enjoyable, overall. I found myself chuckling at most of the jokes no matter how slapstick they were. From fake accents to language barrier jokes and self-references (way too many of them!) I thought it was quintessentially about the difficulties a foreigner faced getting a break in Singapore. Chong claims in some interviews that the movie is semi-autobiographical.

Critics have found the screenplay of the movie to be wanting. I have to agree that pacing of the film was uneven, but I find this movie to be commendable in its general tenor. Chong got a great stable of actors and a fitting soundtrack – where she and Huang sang the two title tracks of the movie.

And on that note, Huang was awesome, as always. The cinema was full of pubescent girls squealing at his every appearance and his dimples (no kidding!). A scene where his character was mistaken by Zann as a deaf-mute (because he was mesmerized by her beauty) was classic, and sweet. For a character to writhe in delight against a wall when he got his first date with Zann was too cute! Although I was perturbed by the fake tan he had to sport for this movie.

All in all, it was meaningful that Chong based the title of the movie on the dialogue that Zann had with Ah Seng – on how some people just don’t get famous overnight, and never will. It added a dose of realism to the younger watchers who may identify with this movie. How often we do chase a near-impossible ideal in the guise of “chasing our dreams”, and fall flat on our face when we fail. Ah Seng, in a moving speech towards the end which addressed Zann’s fear of not claiming the title to the “TV extras king award show”, made an indirect marriage proposal to Zann:

If you want to, you can be the female lead in my life. There will be no NGs, and no director shouting “cut” during your takes. To me, you’re already famous.

(paraphrase)

In my opinion, a great first outing by Michelle Chong. Though a little rough around the edges, with many unnecessary cameos, I look forward to seeing the talented Chong’s second movie.

From this movie alone, we were taught that unconditional acceptance by one, far surpasses the glory of worldwide fame. 🙂

Already Famous has been showing in selected theatres in Singapore since 24 November 2011.

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