November 26, 2010

Sell Out! (Joon Han Yeo, 2008)

The only showing of the Singapore film, Sell Out, is, oddly enough, sold out. It’s my first Singaporean film, a musical sporting a peculiar premise, so I’m excited about it. A young Singaporean engineer, working for a multi-national conglomerate, designs a terrific new product (a tofu processor) but quickly discovers that his invention (and any kind of innovation) isn’t welcomed at his employer.

As a comedy, Sell out is enjoyable, feeling somewhat familiar until the spectator perceives that most of the jokes (and a few plot points) are taken verbatim from World pop culture. Like Singapore itself is wedged between Asian countries, continuously digesting and assimilating foreign influences, Sell out synthesizes ideas from the Zeitgeist, floating around in the world’s ether, on morality and ethics, greed, ambition, celebrity, consumer culture and the schizophrenic nature of modern man. All of this, although never original in its content, takes form with the film’s absurdist approach, driving its points home, albeit never subtly. A one point, the movie even stops and superimposes the lyrics to a song so the spectators can sing along, karaoke-like. I had never seen, up until now, hundreds of people spontaneously singing karaoke while watching a movie, but I highly recommend the experience.

Sell Out is light, entertaining fun with a message, although, ironically, a pure product of the consumer age, distracting for a time, interesting as a cultural artifact, but in no regards a classic film.