Sunday 4 July 2010

How Toy Story 3 and 'filial piety' ad made me cry

I cried in the cinema last week – twice. Of course, I was watching Toy Story 3.

It was when Ken first met Barbie and both immediately knew they were meant for each other, although they didn’t know how they know.

But we in the audience knew. We knew.

And when I heard Gary Wright’s 70s proto-synth classic Dream Weaver played over that magic moment, that just closed the deal and opened the tear ducts for me.

I became so emotional, it was all I could do to keep from bawling in front of my kids. Thank goodness I had the 3D glasses on to hide the my moistening eyes.

Why did I lose it? Maybe it was the added knowledge that Ken was voiced by Michael Keaton, who used to be Batman. From superhero to metrosexual toy boy, the last two decades haven’t been too good to the former Dark Knight. I could relate.

I also cried earlier, even before the movie started – when they were showing the ads.

It was the first time I saw the controversial “filial piety” ad by the National Family Council, where the guy’s elderly mother complained about the meat being too tough to eat.

I almost broke down because I was so jealous of the guy. How I wish tough meat was all my mother bitched about.

But what really turned on the waterworks for me was what happened after that. Upset by the old woman’s contempt for the food, the guy’s wife took the whole plate of chicken and dumped it into the rubbish.

My wife turned to me in the cinema and said: “You would never allow me to do that.”

Of course not! I couldn’t bear to see such wanton wastage of food. If the guy’s mother didn’t want the chicken, the rest of the family could still eat it.

Or put it in the fridge and the next day, shred the chicken meat and make fried rice with it or something. My family could’ve lived on that plate of chicken for half a week. So sad.

Ironically, in the ad, the mother was supposed to be the unreasonable one when clearly, it was the guy’s wife who should be placed in specialised care until she learns to control her destructive impulses.

My own wife was also deeply offended by the ad – but for a completely different reason.

In the ad was a flashback to when the guy was a young boy and his mother took him to a hospital in the rain. To comfort her sick son, she sang a Hokkien song I had never heard before – but my Hokkien wife did.

Later in the ad, it was the grown-up son’s turn to sing the Hokkien song to the sick mother in a hospital.

My wife was outraged that with all the money and effort they obviously spent in producing the ad, they couldn’t get the actors to pronounce the Hokkien lyrics correctly – twice.

It was enough to drive one to tears.

- Published in The New Paper, 4 July 2010