Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Duelling romances: Haakao and Rak/Sam/Sao

A sexuality-conflicted young woman is at the center of Haakao (Puppy Love), a teen romantic comedy from Sahamongkol Film. In GTH's weepy melodrama Rak/Sam/Sao, three friends - a guy and two girls - are in a love triangle.

Both open on Thursday in Thai cinemas. Which one will audiences like better?

As is typical of Thai comedies that don't know when to stop, Haakao has a bit of everything. It has foul-mouthed Mum Jokmok and his crude, though sometimes brilliant slapstick. It has young actors in Afro wigs. It has a talking dog. It has a mincing gay/transvestite supporting character. And, it has a homosexual relationship. It even has ghosts. It's a pastiche, and possibly even a Zucker Brothers-like parody, though weak-looking, of everything commercial Thai cinema has to offer these days.

The protagonist in Haakao is "tom" girl Baimon (Wattaporn Aiumsinthorn) who is best friends with a guy named Boong (Pongpisut Piewoan). They hang out with their colorful chums in the Film Club at their university.

Baimon's artist uncle Asunee (Mum) wants to see his niece stop being a tomboy, and act like a more traditional Thai girl.

A new school year brings a pretty new girl, Tonkauw (Busarin Mahotan). Boong is smitten and asks his friend Baimon to help him get closer to Tonkauw.

Baimon, meanwhile, is heartbroken after being dumped by her "dee" girlfriend Numtam (Skaw Auewiwatsakul).

And then Baimon thinks she has deeper feelings than just friendship for Boong.

It will be interesting to see how the rather slapdash-looking comedy Haakao fares against the slicker, more serious Rak/Sam/Sao, which is directed by Yuthlert Sippapak and features some prettier stars - the angelic Slur guitarist and Body #19 star Arak Amornsupasiri and two girls, the short-haired stunner Ratchawin Wongviriya and the long-haired waif Patarasaya Krousuwansiri.

The major Hollywood opening this week is Get Smart, which I think Thai audiences could care less about. Steve Carell? Anne Hathaway? Don Adams? Barbara Feldon? Mel Brooks? Buck Henry? Who? And though the likes of The Incredible Hulk, Kung Fu Panda and The Happening, which all opened last weekend, will continue to draw numbers, I think the local box office might be dominated by the two Thai films. Which one comes out on top will be another story.

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