Movie review: I Fine... Thank You... Love You is comfortingly familiar
This Thai romantic comedy will melt the coldest of hearts.
WATCHING films is akin to having food sometimes. There are times when an adventurous explosion of flavours in a one-of-a-kind dish is the only thing that will make us happy.
But there are also times when all it takes to make us smile is Mum’s simple home-cooked meals.
For a movie with as silly a title and as broad a sense of slapstick humour as I Fine … Thank You … Love You, it’s borderline miraculous how happy I felt after watching it.
Logically, a film peppered with toilet and fart jokes that are not too far removed from the endless barrage of dumb local comedies we’ve been served with all these years has no right to be this irresistible.
But that’s the thing about love – it defies logic.
When it comes to love (and rom-coms), there’s only one important thing: heart.
And this film, like both of director Mez Tharatorn’s films before this, definitely has its heart in the right place.
Having scored the highest-grossing Thai film of all time with 2012’s ATM (before Pee Mak overtook it with a monster US$33mil worldwide haul), Tharatorn has proven himself to be well attuned to what local and Asian audiences want in their rom-coms.
He has put that knowledge to good use again here.
This is attested to by the film’s record-breaking opening day takings of 29.17 million baht (RM3.26mil).
With the same leading lady as ATM, the film tells the story of English tutor Pleng (Ice Preechaya),who’s asked by her student Kaya (Japanese adult film star Sora Aoi) to help translate the latter’s break-up message to her Thai boyfriend Gym (Sunny Suwanmethanont), as she’s now moving to America to work there.
Refusing to accept the break-up and blaming it on Pleng for teaching English to Kaya (thereby enabling her to work in America), Gym forces Pleng to take him on as a student and give him one-on-one lessons so that he can also qualify to get a job in America and win Kaya back.
This being a romantic comedy, of course there’s a third wheel, the Ralph Bellamy role if this was a 1940s Hollywood rom-com.
Here it comes in the form of the groan-inducingly earnest and cheesy English student Pruek (Two Popetorn), whose pickup lines must be heard in order to be believed.
And so the setup for an unlikely romance between tutor and student is complete and we are set for a great time if it’s executed right.
And how beautifully, if sometimes crudely, executed it is by the filmmakers and actors.
The crude parts come from the very Asian form of slapstick humour that is scattered throughout the film.
Pleng’s housemate and comic sidekick Joke (Joke Kornpop, of Thai band So Cool, also an ATM veteran) shoulders most of the slapstick heavy lifting, and acquits himself quite well too.
Knowing how bad the reputation of slapstick comedy is, thanks to the largely unfunny pratfalls that tried to pass as comedy in so many Malaysian movies, you need only look at Thai rom-coms like this, Hello Stranger, ATM and Bangkok Traffic (Love) Story to see that the fault lies not in the type of humour, but in the delivery.
There’s nothing wrong with lowbrow comedy.
As long as it makes you laugh, then it has done its job.
In terms of laughs alone, this movie acquits itself well.
But the main reason we go to watch rom-coms in the cinema is to experience that warm fuzzy feeling inside, and it’s in this department that I Fine … Thank You … Love You passes with flying colours.
A rom-com is only as good as its lead characters, and in Pleng and Gym we have two of the most appealing and irresistible romantic leads ever in an Asian genre entry, at least in recent memory.
With Gym being a maintenance engineer in a factory and Pleng being an English tutor, it’s their absolutely plain lives that make their developing love story so believable and relatable.
The fact that Ice and Sunny display some truly natural and sizzling onscreen chemistry can only help the viewers further in falling in love with the characters, not that we’d need that much help anyway considering how easy on the eyes they both are.
Add to that the fact the movie also cleverly plays with elements of Cinderella in some of its plot machinations, adapting it to a modern-day Thai setting, it is familiar yet unique enough to melt even the coldest of hearts.
And yes, it’s simply irresistible.