This Chinese New Year, director Jack Neo will be releasing "Wonderful! Liang Xi Mei", a comedy movie starring the titular character that he used to portray in Singapore's comedy show "Happy Can Already!".
It follows the tale of Liang Xi Mei (Jack Neo in drag) as she stirs up trouble in her family when her son, Robert (Mark Lee), becomes jealous of his mother's undying affection towards her youngest son, Albert (Benjamin Josiah Tan). Robert resorts to asking the Goddess of Fortune (Cai Ping Kai) for help but unfortunately for him, the God of Misfortune (Gadrick Chin) also rears his ugly head into the mess.
Cinema Online recently spoke to Jack Neo and his fellow cast members Mark Lee, Henry Thia, Wang Lei, Benjamin Josiah Tan, Apple Chan, Jaspers Lai, Noah Yap, Ryan Lian and Gadrick Chin at the press conference for the movie, held at Redbox Karaoke, Pavilion Kuala Lumpur.
Read on to find out what Jack Neo and Mark Lee have to say about bringing Liang Xi Mei to the big screen in "Wonderful! Liang Xi Mei", opening in cinemas this 15 February.
Cinema Online: What made you decide to bring Liang Xi Mei to the big screen?
Jack: The shooting for "Ah Boys to Men 5" had to be postponed so we had time to do "Wonderful! Liang Xi Mei" instead.
The older generation might recognise the character but what about the younger generation?
Mark: Since they rebroadcasted "Happy Can Already" in Singapore, I've noticed the young generation has started to re-watch the older seasons. They shared it on Facebook, on YouTube, even the children are watching it.
The TV series starring Liang Xi Mei has attracted and entertained three generations of audiences. The young adult are now parents whose children are also watching the series. Their grandparents also used to watch "Comedy Night". In this film, all three generations of actors that have been directed by Jack Neo before are in it and that is very meaningful to me. I hope that director Jack can go on developing newer generations of actors.
Three generations of actors?
Mark: Jack Neo has promoted three generation of actors: The first generation being Henry Thia and myself. Wang Lei in the second generation and the actors from "Ah Boys to Men" (Noah Yap, Jaspers Lai, etc.) are the third generation, including Apple Chan.
Where did you get the idea for the multiple roles for an actor, like Henry Thia with his dual roles in the movie?
Jack: We actually had this style from the days of "Comedy Night". We had a really good understanding between each other ever since we starred in the variety show. If we were to ask another actor to play the role (Liang Xi Mei, Robert, etc.) now, it would feel out of place, hence, why we are playing more than one role.
Mark: This has been our way of doing things for a very long time. Let's take Lion King for example, we would have a hard time finding an actor because he wouldn't have the same vibe (when played by Henry Thia). It's difficult to find an elderly actor that doesn't have to act or speak, but is still funny just by looking at him. If he did have dialogues, we'll start having a lot of NGs (jokes).
Why wasn't Patricia Mok chosen as a cast in this film?
Mark: Because in the sitcom, Juliet (Patricia's character) is interested in Robert but he is married to another woman later on in the series. This film is actually a continuation of the series.
Jack: There will be other opportunities to work with her again. Not necessarily in films, but maybe in other productions.
Will there be a sequel to the movie?
Jack: There will not be a sequel.