Friday, May 30, 2014

CEO [2014]

Director: Razaisyam Rashid
Writer: Nazri M. Annuar
Starring: Remy Ishak, Beto Kusyairi, Anas Ridzuan, Cristina Suzanne, Deanna Yusoff, Jalaluddin Hassan
Genre: Comedy
Rating: General
Verdict: "Provides the kind of laughs that has been absent in local cinema for the past couple of years..."

Two guys, two different worlds, nothing in common. High up in a lavish office in a skyscraper, there's Adam (Remy Ishak) who's the CEO of his own architecture firm. Meanwhile, down on the street is Sufian Abas, book publisher accomplished slacker with a pizza delivery gig on the side. The two have no reason to cross paths, but when Adam is framed for corporate fraud, he winds up on the street and, in a twist of fate, Sufian takes his place. Only then they have one thing in common: neither of them know what's going on or what's at play here.

What to Expect
1. Laugh-out-loud comedy
2. Witty banter
3. Memorable characters
4. Also, great performances from everyone
5. Odd camerawork at times
6. Score's a tad overwhelming

What NOT to Expect
1. Cerekarama
2. (Much of) corporate espionage and political intrigue
3. Senario antics
4. I'm-your-father plot twist
Despite some technical oddities, CEO is easily one of this year's best
Concerns arise about the film due to its minimalist "packaging". Indeed, it's a little hard to tell what's the tone of CEO based on the poster alone. Personally I welcome this minimalist approach not so much because I'm a fan of it, but rather because as of late, local movie posters in general have been nothing short of an eyesore; so this kinda stands out. But let's not get into that right now.

For the time being, let's focus on the film and the film alone; which isn't well-represented in the trailer either, because CEO provides the kind of laughs that has been absent in local cinema for the past couple of years.

For starters, much of the film's humour isn't founded on ideas like fat people are inherently funny. In other words, it doesn't involve cringeworthy name-calling or fat-shaming, so you'd be happy to know that no obese comedians were harmed in the making of CEO - physically or emotionally. What you'll get instead are situational comedy, with set-ups and payoffs; and also sight gags that may get crazy at times, but never off-puttingly over-the-top.

No fart sounds. No cartoon noises. Thank God.

However, that is not to say that CEO nailed it when it comes to sound design. Having wall-to-wall sound has never been something that settles very well with me, but the good news is that it's only something I realised in retrospect: despite the omnipresent background music, at no point did it drown out the exchanges between characters.

Simply put, the production team knew they had a good script, so they didn't try to "enhance" its humour by going too crazy with the sound effects.

The only other thing that I find odd is the camerawork. Ninety percent of the time it's all good - even reminds me of Edgar Wright films - but there are moments when it seems like the cameraman has a big sneeze and the camera shakes violently, presumably for comedic effect. Personally, I find it redundant and out-of-place, but just like that thing with sound design that I've mentioned earlier, they aren't detrimental to my enjoying the film - not once did they wipe the smile away from my face.

What defines CEO, other than the script, are the people that bring it to life. I have an aversion to giving specific examples in my reviews, so let's just say that for once, it's really refreshing to see a film so well-directed and well-acted, from the main cast all the way down to its extras. There are no caricatures here and I even get to see Remy Ishak in a new light. In the past, I've never understood why this guy is such a big name, but here he lives and breathes his character, nails it, and it's so endearing.

Also worthy of note is the performance of Anas Ridzuan, whose busker character is the polar opposite of Remy Ishak's; and stage actor Aloy Paradoks, who plays a minor character as an unorthodox shoe seller, and steals every scene he's in.

Some may express disappointment at how the corporate espionage and political intrigue aspects of CEO hover mostly in the background, while a whole lot more emphasis are given to the characters. Personally, I don't mind it at all because I take the movie for what it is: not a thriller, and more of a lighthearted, modern-day Malaysian take on The Prince and the Pauper.

So I say forget about "supporting local stuff" or CEO being okay "for a local production." This here is a fine movie that stands on its own two feet and I can, wholeheartedly, recommend it.

1 comment:

Hafiz Tajuddin said...

Quite a recommendation! I thought this one was different, but now you've sold me. Going to watch and hope this does well!

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