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Film Review: I Not Stupid

Most surprising thing about writer-director Jack Neo's "I Not Stupid" is that it got past Singapore's censors intact, despite satirizing the local habit of blind obedience to authority. Neo, a popular TV comic, has mocked this before, but here makes it the main focus in a comic ensembler about three families and their kids.

I Not Stupid
Courtesy of SGIFF

Most surprising thing about writer-director Jack Neo’s “I Not Stupid” is that it got past Singapore’s censors intact, despite satirizing the local habit of blind obedience to authority. Neo, a popular TV comic, has mocked this before (“Money No Enough”), but here makes it the main focus in a comic ensembler about three families and their kids. Pic was a local hit on release in February (and even a mild performer in Hong Kong), but its humor will be largely impenetrable to those unfamiliar with the island republic.

 

Narrator is tubby Terry Khoo (Huang Po-ju), whose dad (Richard Low) runs a dried-sweetmeat business and mom (Selena Tan) is a loudmouthed bully. Terry’s two school friends are thick Kok-pin (Shawn Lee), whose ad-agency father (Neo) finds himself working for Terry’s arrogant dad, and hard-working Boon-hock (Joshua Ang), whose family runs a food stall. Script is hardest on the parents — all social climbers or argumentative and self-centered — but can’t seem to develop its themes beyond individual sketches: Pic runs adrift in weak subplots centered on a kidnapping and bone-marrow transplant. Perfs are all good in a fruity way, and tech credits OK.

Film Review: I Not Stupid

Singapore

  • Production: A Raintree Pictures release and presentation. (International sales: Raintree, Singapore.) Produced by David Leong, Chan Pui-yin. Executive producer, Daniel Yun. Directed, written by Jack Neo.
  • Crew: Camera (color), Ardy Lam; editor, Yeung Yiu-chung; music, Li Yi; art director, Jerry Hoh. Reviewed on videodisc, London, July 28, 2002. Mandarin, Hokkien & Singlish dialogue. Running time: 106 min.
  • With: <b>With:</b> Jack Neo, Xiang Yun, Richard Low, Selena Tan, Huang Po-ju, Shawn Lee, Joshua Ang, Cheryl Chan, Hossan Leong, Mark Lee, Patricia Mok, Henry Chua.
  • Music By: