Indonesia’s Blossoming Thai Romance

16 พ.ค.

Thai movies ‘Suck Seed,’ ‘Lulla Man’ and ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’ have found success with Indonesian audiences deprived of Hollywood flicks. (Photo courtesy of BlitzMegaplex)

Thai movies ‘Suck Seed,’ ‘Lulla Man’ and ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’ have found success with Indonesian audiences deprived of Hollywood flicks. (Photo courtesy of BlitzMegaplex)

The lamentable film tax fight that has prevented Hollywood blockbusters from making it into our theaters has had at least one interesting side effect, turning quirky Thai romantic comedies into local favorites.

One could argue that the popularity of these films was prompted by the huge success of “Bangkok Traffic (Love) Story,” which earned enough positive buzz to extend its time in local theaters.

The positive feedback from audiences has encouraged the second-biggest cinema chain in the country, BlitzMegaplex, to continue importing romantic comedies from Thailand.

Immediately after “Bangkok Traffic (Love) Story,” audiences were treated to the Seoul-set Thai film “Hello Stranger.” After a string of other kooky Thai romantic comedies, the genre this year delivered a Pygmalion-like teen story in “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.” 

And for the last two weeks, the Thai romantic comedy “Suck Seed” has been sitting on top of the local box office charts, and with the lack of competition from Hollywood big shots, it could remain there for some time.

“Suck Seed” bears a striking similarity to the aforementioned films. It also takes a cue from “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,” both in its look and story, and stacks up against 1980s American teen films.

In the movie, a young girl named Ped, who has an eclectic taste in music, drives Ern wild, but the boy is too shy to express his feelings. Instead, he claims that another boy has a crush on her. The trio is reunited in high school, but destiny plays a trick on them — the two boys are now best friends who want to join a high school band competition. Chaos ensues when the girl enters the picture. It takes years before the three are able to settle the feelings they have kept hidden for so long.

Most Thai romantic comedies seem to share a similar storyline. Due to a misunderstanding or some chance event, the main characters don’t see each other for a prolonged period of time and then are reunited under unexpected circumstances.

Call it formulaic, but even so, “Suck Seed” is complemented by outstanding production techniques. The film hardly feels cheesy with the out-of-center frames and the addition of animation into the story. It also doesn’t hurt that pieces of popular rock songs are interspersed within the film’s narrative.

The Thai romantic-comedy genre has a certain movie-magic quality that takes it beyond the realm of romantic cliches.

Believable performances, strong narratives and intriguing sets are enough for audiences to keep coming back to see similar stories over and over again.

On a different end of same successful spectrum is the Thai film “Lulla Man.” This crass slapstick comedy is likely to generate decent ticket sales in Indonesia.

The film’s plot couldn’t be more simple. Three married men have an acute, if not uncontrollable, need to fool around with random women, despite having loyal wives at home. The men get away with their cheating ways until one of them falls for the mistress of a mafia boss. The almost plotless film progresses to a sudden made-up intervention at the end.

If the movie’s storyline sounds familiar, it is. And there is no lack of bikini-clad or skimpily dressed women parading around. Yes, it is Thailand’s answer to Indonesian comedy legends Warkop DKI, who ruled Indonesian cinema in the ’80s and still generate good ratings whenever their films are broadcast on TV.

Despite its lack of technical elements and the magic quality that would put it on par with Thai romantic comedies, “Lulla Man” has done well at Indonesian theaters with audiences that are most likely missing the low-brow humor of Hollywood comedies.

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    […] Indonesia’s Blossoming Thai Romance (allthpop.com) […]

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