This "Thai Graffiti" follows a group of high school students more interested in adolescent high jinks than academic achievement. Swiftly paced and cleverly mounted, the frothy comedy has surprisingly universal appeal, although it's far too frank for its logical audience.
This “Thai Graffiti” follows a group of high school students more interested in adolescent high jinks than academic achievement. Swiftly paced and cleverly mounted, the frothy comedy has surprisingly universal appeal, although it’s far too frank for its logical audience.
Khan (Mos Patipan) is the acknowledged ringleader of a middle-class gang calling itself the Rolling Stones. Forever pulling gags and impressing or bullying the younger kids, Khan and Co. are in for rude surprises as graduation approaches, and they’re more or less told to shape up or expect to be pulling guard duty on the Cambodian border.
Eventually, the boys do the rite-of-passage thing and learn to conform and have fun, in the time-honored TV afterschool special tradition. But helmer Somching Srisupap, still in his 20s, has a blast showing their confusion along the way. Even if the slapstick action is frequently over-orchestrated, he’s particularly adept at building sequences of cleverly contrasted widescreen close-ups interspersed with moody breathing spaces and pop-culture sendups familiar to teens everywhere.
In fact, the colorful coming-of-age pic would play well in Western schools — if the script wasn’t so scatological: The lads break up a school meeting by breaking wind in unison, and they’re more likely to watch “Debbie Does It All” on dad’s VCR than hit the books.
Fortunately, the un-p.c. undertone makes a quirky counterpoint to the upbeat ending, at a talent night in which everybody overcomes their hang-ups in one fell swoop — and the girls learn to rock. Enjoyable and remarkably polished, it’s nicely acted, even if no one stands out.
Pic’s mildly head-scratching title — surely the result of the same semi-translation that plagues its subtitles — is a hint of the quizzical reception it will receive from educators and fest programmers.