Sunday 6 February 2011

Jay Chou’s 'England not so powderful' in The Green Hornet

On Wednesday night, I did what most Singaporeans do on Chinese New Year’s eve – I went to see a movie. In my case, it was The Green Hornet.

Early in the movie, Jay Chou’s character was talking to Seth Rogan’s character about the latter’s father and Chou said something that sounded like: “He was a little bit thick.”

It took me a moment to realise that Chou didn’t mean “thick” and was actually trying to say another word that is a euphemism for penis.

There were many instances like this in the movie where in real life, Chou’s co-stars would be responding with: “What did you say? Can you repeat that? Or write it down? Maybe try sign language.”

Instead, they spent much of the movie pretending to understand what he was saying the first time he said it.

This is even less believable than Chou and Rogen fighting over the affections of an elderly woman like Cameron Diaz, who is at least seven years older than both of them.

Chou’s awkward line-reading was even worse than Chow Yun Fat’s in the third Pirates Of The Caribbean movie and that’s saying something.

The audience snickered every time Chou spoke, made more laughable by his “I’m so cool” posturing.

I felt sorry for him – as much as one can feel sorry for a multi-millionaire international superstar. Has Chou become such a big star that no one dared to tell him that “his England is not so powderful”?

Too bad he didn’t have Zoe Tay’s manager.

A few years ago, when I was working at MediaCorp, there was an attempt to create a sitcom for Tay – for Channel 5.

Yes, that meant the putative “queen” of local Chinese drama would have to speak English – and we all know the “queen’s” English isn’t exactly the Queen’s English.

I actually thought it was a good idea. This was after Tay had guest-starred in an episode of Phua Chu Kang Pte Ltd which was a ratings success.

But as you can guess from the absence of shows starring Zoe Tay on Channel 5, the project was nixed.

Later, Tay’s manager told me that Tay was sent to take some sort of English test and she did so badly that it was decided her English wasn’t good enough for her to star in an English-language production – even a sitcom. Viewers would be laughing at her for the wrong reasons.

Which is what’s happening to Jay Chou in The Green Hornet.

Still, the movie seems to be doing okay at the box office. So we may be laughing at Chou, but he’s laughing all the way to the bank.

And Zoe Tay? Forget her. What about a Channel 5 sitcom starring Fann Wong? I'm hoping Fann’s England is slightly more powderful.

- Published in The New Paper, 5 February 2011