Monday, October 3, 2011
Malaysia is a funny place. We have so many unique characteristics, idiosyncrasies, habits and conflicts that any outsider looking in would think we are a pretty funny bunch. Despite this diverse cultures and traditions, it's not easy to make a Malaysian movie. I am talking about a true-blue Malaysian movie, not a Malaysian-Malay, Malaysian-Chinese or Malaysian Indian movie. I am talking about one that celebrates all aspects of being Malaysian, and not just one that focuses on one race, language or religion (Some might call it a 1Malaysia movie; personally I don't see why we can't just call it a Malaysian movie).
For me, Nasi Lemak 2.0 is out to make us take a good look at ourselves and laugh. It is also not meant to offend, criticize or insult anyone. What it wants us to do was to laugh at ourselves, at how we interact with other Malaysians, at our obsession with food, our culture, our national car, our politics, and at Malaysian life in general. While the story (which uses various languages and dialects, including Malay, Mandarin, Cantonese, Hokkien, Hakka, Tamil and English) is pretty much just an excuse to string together gags, it does focus on something Malaysians are very proud of - our food.
The movie's humour flits between outright hilarious and somewhat cringe-worthy, one of Namewee's best attributes is that he has never been afraid to laugh at himself. Here, he tries really hard to get us to laugh at ourselves. He is not out to offend anyone though (compared to his YouTube videos, the jokes here seem pretty mild). What he does is hold a mirror up to our faces, and shows us our flaws and our idiosyncrasies, as well as the funny side to being Malaysian.
The best bits of the movie are the subtler touches that Namewee puts in - the constant pokes at a certain national car, the usage of bits of 'popular' political quotes in the dialogue. No matter what you may think of Namewee, give this first-time director a chance. Nasi Lemak 2.0 may not be perfect, but it has its moments. Just try to look past the obvious flaws in the movie - its disjointedness, the awkwardness of some of the dialogue, and the preachy monologues - and revel in the fact that Malaysia really is a funny place.