Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Anita Ho: Meeting the Parents
kid wouldn’t want to date a Power Ranger? What guy wouldn’t be interested in a
woman like Anita Lee? Maybe one who has met her parents. Harry Ho is about to
have the dubious pleasure, but since he is Korean rather than Chinese, it will
be a difficult getting-to-know-you process in Steve Myung’s Anita Ho (trailer here), which opens this
Friday in Los Angeles.
is really a Korean Oh, but when his family came through immigration, it was
changed to a Chinese-sounding (and more easily mocked) Ho. After a while, they
got tired of fighting it. Unfortunately, this leads to some initial awkwardness
when he first meets his girlfriend Anita’s parents, the Lees—and it only goes
downhill from there. Needless to say, they want their daughter to marry a good
Chinese boy. That means a doctor or a lawyer. An employed writer just does not
Ho is a freelancer, who quit his gig on Lee’s “Power Raiders” kiddie action
show to write his screenplay. That has not been working out so well. At least,
his relationship with Lee has been fulfilling. In fact, he intends to pop the
question while they are visiting for her special thirtieth birthday banquet,
but her parents will do everything they can to belittle and undermine him.
about anyone who was ever raked over the coals by their date’s dad on prom
night should be able to relate to Anita
Ho on some level. Of course, they never had to face George Cheung (the
notorious Lt. Tay in Rambo: First Blood
II and senior member of the Awesome Asian Bad Guys). Unimpressed with the mild-mannered Ho, Mr. Lee will
actually try to fix his daughter up with a former classmate. Yes, he happens to
be a doctor.
maybe we have all been there, but director-co-writer Myung just cranks up the
cringe factor when appearing as Ho. By the time the film is over that poor cat’s
back is covered in “kick me” signs. He has some pleasant romantic chemistry
with co-writer Lina So Myung, but it eventually becomes difficult to buy into
them as a couple, while he wallows in humiliation and she essentially lets it
happen. The Myungs also apparently dig romantic montages, because they are not
stingy with them (though they really probably should have been).
Lina So Myung truly lights up the screen as Lee,
while Cheung and Elizabeth Sung have their moments as the demanding parents. However,
it is Kenny Waymack, Jr. who gives us something to latch onto as Lee’s Filipino
brother-in-law and tough talking audience surrogate, Tyson Bautista. It is nice
to see a film advocate inclusiveness, but some of the broad humor falls a bit
flat. Frankly, the film would have been better served by a little more romantic
courtship and a little less shtick. It is also cool to see the telegenic Myungs
making their own opportunities. Nevertheless, Anita Ho is strictly a date-night kind of movie when it opens this
Friday (2/27) at the Laemmle Playhouse 7 in Pasadena.
Labels: George Cheung, Movie Romance