Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Review: Khun Nai Ho

  • Directed by Rerkchai Paungpetch
  • Starring Araya A. Hargate, Akom Preedakul, Jaroenporn Ornlamai, Teeradate Methavorrayuth, Ray MacDonald
  • Released in Thai cinemas on December 27, 2012; rated 15+
  • Wise Kwai's rating: 2/5

For no other reason than it's funny looking, soap star "Chompoo" Araya A. Hargate wears a wig in Khun Nai Ho (คุณนายโฮ), the latest year-end comedy bonanza from M-Thirtynine Pictures and director Rerkchai Paungpetch. The comical bowl-shaped bob gives the usually long-haired actress the appearance of a mushroom, a fact that is later commented on with much venom by one of the characters.

Khun Nai Ho, a.k.a. Madame Ho, also has the international English title Crazy Crying Lady, which is literally what the movie is about. Sort of.

It's the latest in a long line of romantic comedies from Rerkchai and M-Thirtynine, released every New Year's holiday. They all follow the same formula – casting attractive young, popular stars with veteran male comedians who are usually in drag. All are incomprehensible tales, full of non-sequitur humor and take forever to get to the point. And they are, for some reason, wildly popular with Thai audiences. According to the latest box-office figures, Khun Nai Ho has earned nearly 80 million baht after three weeks, zeroing in on the industry's benchmark 100 million baht figure and ensuring that we'll get another one of these types of comedies around this time next year.

Like just about every Thai comedy, Khun Nai Ho starts out fun and full of energy, but quickly degenerates into a succession of headache-inducing nonsensical jokes, gay slurs and slapstick gags. The production design and costuming is candy colored and gives the movie a generally hermetic feel, more like a TV series. Much of it seems to have been filmed in a city park, where tiny roadways add to the fantasyland feel. The electronic keyboard soundtrack also seems to have been borrowed from Thai TV. And the storytelling is episodic, just like a TV series.

Also from TV is the star, Thailand's leading soap-opera actress, "Chompoo" Araya. She portrays Ho, a woman-child who wears her emotions on her sleeve.

The story follows her from childhood. As a schoolgirl she is bright but emotionally crippled. Simple requests from anyone cause her to cry. At school one day, the teacher asks the children what they want to be when they grow up. Ho's neighbor-boy classmate Doc says he wants to be a doctor, of course. Her long-haired guy pal Boyd wants to be a rock star. The little girl Ho says she wants to be pregnant, which earns her a severe reprimand from the teacher, who instructs Ho to wait until she has indeed grown up. The incident scars Ho for life.

Another life-altering occurence is when little-girl Ho is awarded for earning the highest marks in her class. She runs home, crying all the way, to tell her parents, only to be met on the front porch by her father and younger brother. Dad then breaks the news that her mother and sister have been killed in a car crash. And cue more tears.

Cut to years later, the adult but still childish Miss Ho is a teacher at her old school. She's still single and still a virgin, thanks to that traumatizing reprimand from her teacher years ago. Ho is also still handicapped by her overemotional state, which causes her cry all the time. Tell her some good news, she cries. Tell her some bad news and she cries even more.

Chompoo Araya is really the perfect choice for this role, because in order to work on Thai TV she has be able to turn on her tear faucet as easy as most folks turn the tap on their kitchen sink.

But one of the many problems with this movie is that Chompoo, despite being the star and central figure, is sidelined by various nonsensical subplots involving the supporting characters, namely her father, played by Akom Preedakul, a.k.a.  Kom Chaunchuen, and her gay cross-dressing brother, portrayed by Jaroenporn "Kotee" Ornlamai.

Kom's character is a retired military man who can't let go of his former career. He's haunted by an incident on the battlefield, and apparently suffers from terminal post-traumatic stress syndrome. Despite his unkempt facial hair, unruly mane and not-so-trim physique, he holds on to his military bearing and wears a uniform everywhere.

Among the shenanigans involving Kom's character is an outing to a paintball range with his old army buddies. It's run by Ho's wannabe rock star childhood friend Boyd (Ray MacDonald). The fun turns disastrous when dear old dad opens up with real bullets rather than paintballs.

Kom's character Nawa is also ashamed that his son is gay, and scolds the boy for dressing up in women's clothes, engaging in less-than-manly activities and having a boy-toy boyfriend. Kotee, as always, commits fully to the character, squeezing his rotund figure into tight outfits. A humorous aside is the "Yes! You Can Do" self-help videos Nawa records, offering tips on everything from makeup to robot dancing. At one point, Kotee strips to the waist, letting fly his large man boobs and corpulent tummy. The stunt earns him gales of laughter from the audience but does nothing to advance the plot.

Plot? Oh yeah. Plot. Eventually, somewhere toward the end of the movie they get around to that. Ho still desperately wants to have children but doesn't want to give up her virginity. However, her best friend, the dear old childhood chum Dr. Doc (Teeradate Methavorrayuth), is as it turns out, an obstetrician. He informs her that her eggs are dying, and if she doesn't get pregnant soon, she won't be able to have kids.

At the urging of her gal pals, she tries a weekend hookup with her supposed boyfriend, the paintball-range operator Boyd. But Boyd is simply too aggressive, and scares the tearful Chompoo off. Ray brings his usual dramatic intensity, but shows off his comedic range as he rattles off a string of insults when he breaks up with Ho.

The next likely candidate is her BFF, Doc. But will it be too late by the time they finally get around to being more than friends?

Unfortunately by then, time has run out and the end credits are running alongside outtakes involving Kotee's character and his self-help videos.

See also:


  1. I was able to see this movie in Ayutthaya the other day, and it was my first introduction to Thai cinema. As farang, I was worried I would not understand Thai humour but I gave it a try nonetheless. Much to my relief, the movie had English subtitles so at least I could understand what was said. Even though I can understand some of the points made in the above review, I can say I liked the movie very much. It was great fun and especially Kom and Kornee's performances were outstanding.

  2. Just wanna ask, d0 u kn0w where their film this m0vie? the places?


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