Thursday, April 15, 2010

Review: Saranae Siblor

  • Directed by Naruebordee Wetchakam
  • Starring Mario Maurer, "Ple" Nakorn Silachai, "Sena Hoi" Kiattisak Udomnak, Kohtee Aramboy, Ruengrit "Willy" McIntosh, "Chompoo" Araya A. Hartgett, Patheera Sarutipongpokim
  • Released in Thai cinemas on April 1, 2010; rated 15+
  • Wise Kwai's rating: 3/5

Attention Michael Bay: The Thai film industry is capable of making Transformers for a fraction of the cost, with giant robots that exude more emotions and are more vividly memorable in a short segment than yours were in two overly long, way-too-costly feature films.

It's a brilliant Transformers parody that comes at the climax of the slightly too-long Saranae Siblor (สาระแนสิบล้อ, also Saranair Siblor), the latest everything-plus-the-kitchen-sink Thai comedy. Instead of a flashy new General Motors model, it's the humble antique workhorse of Thailand's highways, a rickety utilitarian Isuzu 10-wheel truck -- the "siblor" of the title -- that changes into a giant robot and goes tearing through rice paddies, looking for the film's heroes.

The "Thai transformer" is part of a plot twist that's the high point of this otherwise average comedy featuring the usual comedians riffing on their usual scatalogical jokes, gross sight gags and double-entendre wordplay.

It's produced by the Lucks Film crew from the Saranae reality-TV prank show that last year had the big-screen hit Saranae the Movie (Saranae Hao Peng). But unlike last year's effort, Saranae Siblor is a fictional tale.

Heartthrob young leading man Mario Maurer stars in this road-trip farce. The filmmakers capitalize on the cultural perception that because a guy "looks" gay he must be gay, which is reinforced in this case by Mario's having starred in the gay teen romance Love of Siam (Rak Haeng Siam). He plays Ake, a weak-wristed high-school kid who favors pastel-shaded shirts and is the captain of the cheerleading team. His schoolmaster father (Santisuk Promsiri) thinks the boy could use some manning up, so he packs him off during a school break to visit his Uncle Che.

If being a man means driving your 10-wheel truck through a crowded market, living in pigsty-like conditions, not wearing clean clothes, paying no attention to personal grooming and boozing and whoring the night away, then Uncle Che is the example you want to live by.

With a patchy growth of whiskers, jaunty beret and aviator shades, Che, as played by Saranae co-host Nakorn "Ple" Silachai, appears as the spitting image of the iconic Latin American communist leader. But instead of leading revolutions, this Che stays behind the wheel, guiding his old 10-wheel truck on the highways and byways of Thailand, delivering who knows what.

He has two helpers, the twin brothers Add and Ood, portrayed by Saranae cast member Sena Hoi and the cherubic comic Kohtee Aramboy, who was pranked in the first Saranae movie. Though they don't look alike, Sena Hoi and Kotee share similiar comedy DNA and they make a good team, even as they are kicked and beaten and made to look even more ridiculous than their bowl-shaped haircuts, thick glasses and grease-covered striped T-shirts already make them. Among the gross-out highlights is a sequence that shows how the former Siamese twins were separated.

The foursome hits the road with no clear purpose stated. They are truckers and they must drive. What is that truck hauling anyway?

Turns out it's loaded with the jokes. Whatever's needed, the Saranae crew will pull it out of the back. Ghosts? There's a dozen or so in there, under the tarp. Zombie bikers? Why yes, they've got that covered too. Haunting memories of a fatal traffic wreck? How could there be a movie without them? An angry gun-toting pimp? Well, they had to had something for Saranae cast member Ruengrit "Willy" McIntosh to do. It has everything. Like Steve Goodman and John Prine's quintessential country-and-western song "You Never Even Called Me by My Name", there's even a big holiday like Christmas, only here its November's love-boat floating Loy Krathong, which seems an odd choice for a movie released during the water-splashing Songkran Thai New Year.

There are even love interests. For Uncle Che, it's a prostitute-masseuse with a prosthetic leg, played by "Chompoo" Araya A. Hartgett. And Mario meets his age-appropriate match in a 7-Eleven store clerk (Patheera Sarutipongpokim) who seems interested in the fact he's buying three boxes of fruit-flavored condoms.

The movie dazzles the eye with its 1960s fashions and color palette but the jokes seem even older, falling back on the usual rhythms of Thai horror-comedies of folks running around screaming even though things don't seem that scary.

Until that Isuzu truck turns into a robot.

And Mario finally proves he's a man. By picking up a gun.

It wasn't necessary. His pink T-shirt with Rambo as the lead guitarist in a rock band proves he's man enough, even if he can't stop from cracking up at the antics of Ple, Kohtee and Sena Hoi. Wonder how many takes they tried before giving up on getting Mario to stay in character?

Now how about another Saranae movie, and make it all transformers with a role for Thailand's tuk-tuks?

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  1. picture 2: what a nice tasty she half thai? she doesn't look like a sweet thai woman

  2. what was the name of that curly haired girl ? She's cute .

  3. What is the name of the two man Thai Rap group in the Karoke bar? They aapeared before Che got stabbed in the back.


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