I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change! film review: Wong Cho-lam’s musical comedy adaptation is a winner
- Actor’s directorial debut about the different stages of romantic relationships features an ensemble cast of more than 50
- Ivana Wong and Teresa Mo are the stars of the show alongside Wong and Eric Tsang, and there are cameos from Joey Yung and Sammi Cheng
I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change! marks the film directing debut of Wong Cho-lam, and there couldn’t have been a more fitting project for him to showcase his talent. After all, the Hong Kong comedian provided the lyrics for the stage work on which it is based – local group Windmill Grass Theatre’s popular Cantonese production of playwright Joe DiPietro and composer Jimmy Roberts’ off-Broadway musical hit.
Wong’s familiarity with the material probably eased his move into the director’s chair, and his aptitude for overacting may be a virtue in the realm of musical comedy. By transposing the musical numbers to an eclectic range of locations throughout Hong Kong, Wong has come up with a fairly faithful adaptation which nevertheless has a distinctly local feel.
Like the original stage shows, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change! is made up of a series of vignettes contemplating the different stages of romantic relationships, here filed under the chapter headings “courtship”, “marriage“ and “couples”. By keeping the scenes brief, the song and dance frequent and the character designs consistently colourful, this is one cheerful way to lose 88 minutes of your time.
Wong’s decision to replace the original cast of four with an ensemble of over 50 actors proves an effective tactic to keep his audience’s attention – and, of course, streamline his comedy into the lucrative Chinese New Year market. The film opens with an amusing sung-through sketch about a first cinema date (portrayed by Alex Fong Lik-sun and Ivana Wong Yuen-chi) and rarely disappoints thereafter.
Wong Cho-lam, Eric Tsang Chi-wai, Ivana Wong and Teresa Mo Shun-kwan are the four actors given top billing in the film’s credits, but the two actresses have much more screen time than their male counterparts – even if the director does get to share a smooch with Canto-pop star Joey Yung Cho-yee in a short early scene, which fizzles out before things get interesting.
While it’s fun to see Mo milk her acclaimed role in Tomorrow Is Another Day for an unexpectedly poignant encore in a variety-show scene, Ivana Wong – quite possibly Hong Kong’s top comedy actress today – proves the true star; she nails every sketch she’s in. Another highlight is the “finale” co-starring Wu Fung and Nina Paw Hee-ching, as a widower and widow on the verge of a pickup.
For fans of Windmill Grass productions, this film is also worth catching for the scattered appearances of the troupe’s founders (Joey Leung Cho-yiu, Edmond Tong Chun-yip and Shaw Mei-kwan) and guest stars (such as Harriet Yeung Sze-man and Michael Ning). In particular, Leung’s turn opposite superstar Sammi Cheng Sau-man will be particularly gratifying for theatre buffs.
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