'Joyful Reunion'

Broad comedy and goopy melodrama are combined to digestible but hardly delectable effect in "Joyful Reunion."

Broad comedy and goopy melodrama are combined to digestible but hardly delectable effect in “Joyful Reunion.” Though billed as a sequel to “Eat Drink Man Woman,” replete with intergenerational conflict, romantic uncertainty and elegantly prepared cuisine, this Taiwan-China co-production has no characters in common with Ang Lee’s 1994 foodie favorite and is working with story ingredients of a markedly lower quality. Bland, Lazy Susan-style crowdpleaser could stir up respectable local numbers but won’t sell like hotcakes overseas.

Tsao Jui-yuan’s largely Hangzhou-set dramedy faintly echoes “Eat Drink” by focusing on a legendary chef (Kenneth Tsang) and his loving but not-uncomplicated relationship with his overachieving daughter, Wa’er (Huo Siyan), but the six-scribe screenplay complicates the stew by introducing Wa’er’s nerdy, neglectful b.f. (Blue Lan) and his blowsy, ill-mannered Taiwanese aunt (Rose Kuei). How these relationships play out is neither engaging nor persuasive, though there are eye-candy compensations in the sumptuous production design, from the gleaming waterfront health spa where Waer works, to her father’s exquisite restaurant, though the all-vegetarian menu won’t satiate all food-porn appetites. Bluntly speaking her mind one minute, showing off her dancing abilities the next, Kuei steals the show.

Joyful Reunion

Taiwan-China

Production

A Taihe Universal Film Investment Co. (in China)/Tang Moon Intl. Prods. Co. (in Taiwan) release of a Taihe Universal Film Investment Co., Tang Moon Intl. Prods. Co., Zhejian Roc Pictures Co. presentation by Hsu Li-kong, Wang Wei, Sun Tianjiao. (International sales: Tang Moon Intl. Prods. Co., Taipei.) Produced by Hsu, Qian Shimu. Executive producer, Yeh Jufeng. Co-producer, Nina Han. Directed by Tsao Jui-yuan. Screenplay, Tan Miao, Chen Shih-chieh, Wang Tzu-ang, Yankee Zho, Neko Xu, Tu Hsiang-wen.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Ching Ting-chang; editor, Ho Jien-huei; music, Baby-C; production designer, Lee Tung-kang; art director, LV Jing; costume designers, Lee Long-yeu, Hsu Shu-hua. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Culinary Cinema), Feb. 16, 2012. Running time: 107 MIN.

With

With: Rose Kuei, Huo Siyan, Blue Lan, Kenneth Tsang, Chang Hsiao-chuan, Jiang Mengjie, Yang Yang, Li Qin, Huang Xuan, Ding Chiang. (Mandarin dialogue)

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