Sprinkle of magic
IF you were one of those who tuned in to watch Ntv7’s first Chinese New Year telemovie The Superb Matchmakers back in February, chances are, you would be happy to learn that a second offering starring the very same cast is now in the works.
The comedy, rich with local flavour and humour, was rated as the most-watched programme during the time slot, beating 72 Tenants Of Prosperity and CJ7 on other channels and capturing more than 50% of the Chinese audiences, said the station’s brand management group manager Lai Cheah Yee.
Riding on the massive success, stars like William San, Wayne Chua, Yeo Yann Yann, Frederick Lee, Leslie Chai, Aenie Wong, Tiang Kah Chee, and Lin Jing Miao return and are joined by new cast members Debbie Goh, Pearlly Chua and Adrian Tan to offer another Chinese New Year fare.
Titled Happy Family, it promises the same amount of fun and laughter with slice-of-life stories revolving around a typical Chinese family whose members rarely express their love for each other. Expect this to be another feel-good comedy, with a sprinkle of magic potion that brings the people in an old portrait to life.
Accepting the suggestion of his wife Li Jia Xin (Chuah), Yang Cong (San), a thirtysomething who shares a distant relationship with his family, decides to go home for reunion dinner on Chinese New Year’s Eve. He ends up having a big fight with everyone. An angry Yang Cong goes to sleep, thinking about his childhood dream of replacing the family members whom he dislikes so much.
Like the saying goes, be careful what you wish for, as the next thing he knows, his family has vanished and is replaced by the people featured in a portrait instead
The idea first struck director Kethsvin Chee when he passed by a DVD shop one day and saw a poster.
“I started wondering what would happen
gang is back to serve up more laughter, with the help of magic dust, next chinese new year. if the people in the poster are brought to life. When I told the actors about the story, they were excited and really loved it,” he said.
For his second CNY telemovie after The Superb Matchmakers, the director has forged close ties with the cast.
“I was nervous when I was making The Superb Matchmakers because it was my first time directing so many actors. Now we are so familiar with each other that everyone went crazy throwing ideas around during rehearsals.”
Veteran thespians Pearlly and Leong Ah Kau play the set of Chinese parents that we are all so familiar with. Stern and old-fashioned, the 60-year-old Yang Fan is estranged from his second son Yang Cong. His wife is a typical homemaker who devotes all her time to her family. Pearlly is one of those in the cast who portrays two characters in the movie – one in the family and the other from the portrait.
“So at one point I am the traditional, longsuffering mother and at another, I’m this cheeky auntie,” said Pearlly, whose younger self in the movie will be portrayed by Star Idol alumnus Mayjune Tan.
The comedy would not be complete without some interesting scene-stealers. Ntv7 host Jack Yap plays a kind-hearted Thai bodyguard who is gossipy and a freeloader at times.
“The rest of the cast told me that I don’t have to act as I already look like a Thai. Once I put on the costume, I get into character at once. I just have to use a drawling tone,” he quipped.
Goh, who clinched the Most Popular Actress at last year’s Golden Awards (that honours top local TV productions) with her performance in Age Of Glory, will shed her demure persona to team up with Kyo Chen to play the rich and obnoxious cousins of the family.
“This is my most outrageous appearance so far. It’s an exciting and a refreshing change from the usually heavy roles I take on in drama series,” said the beauty queen.
Equally eye-catching are actresses Wong and Tiang, who play getai singers complete with elaborate costumes, make-up and beehive hairstyles.
On the other hand, Yeo, the Best Actress winner at the Golden Awards, is reunited with Lee in Happy Family. Their warm interactions on and off the set have spark talks of a blossoming romance. While Lee expressed that he shares “a new chemistry” with Yeo whenever they collaborate, the latter was quick to add: “We are good friends. It’s hard to develop any romantic feeling because he played my son-in-law the first time we collaborated (in The Iron Lady).”
Judging by their differences in appearances, it’s hard to imagine Lin Jing Miao and Adrian Tan as twins. Maybe that’s why they have contrasting personalities in the movie. The chirpy Lin, equipped with martial arts skills, acts as her brother’s protector most of the time.
It appears that San and Wayne are the only ones who appear normal amidst the oddball group. It marks the third time they play lovers, following The Superb Matchmakers and drama series Forget Me Not.
Wayne, whose character is often torn between her husband and his family, complained that she doesn’t get to showcase her crazy streak like others do.
“Maybe the director doesn’t expect much from me all this while. So I always get to play ‘normal’ characters ( laughs). He wants me to play myself but I have to come up with something to make the role interesting – it’s so difficult! I’m still figuring out how to do this,” she said. n HappyFamily will premiere on the first day of Chinese New Year (Jan 23, 2012) at 10pm on Ntv7.