TalkingCock the Movie
Reviewed by Soh Yun-Huei
Directors: Colin Goh, Jocelyn Yen
Year Released: 2002
Rating: ½ star (out of four stars)
TalkingCock the Movie is based on a famous Singapore satirical website, www.talkingcock.com, and is plugged as a real Singaporean movie, featuring real Singaporeans speaking real Singapore English - or more commonly known as Singlish. To summarize the movie in one Singlish phrase - 'it's damn cock ah! Chock-full of unfunny jokes and situations, and stereotyped characters, TalkingCock is probably one of the worst local movies I have ever had the misfortune to watch. The movie makes one fatal mistake - that to be called satirical, the movie actually needs to be funny. Although providing some chuckles along the way, the film loses its footing after the first reel, and becomes increasingly unwatchable after that.
Composed actually of four short stories, pieced together with other short vignettes and interludes, TalkingCock is shot entirely on miniDV, and runs a slightly too long 90 minutes. The four short stories tell the tale of an entrepreneurial Business Administration graduate decides to make his father's moneylending (Ah Long) venture more high-tech; a businessman loses his handphone and finds that getting it back may be harder than he thought; a waitress in a Pau shop decides to convey her affections to a customer in a traditional manner, which leads to consequences she never expected; and a teenage heavy metal band of boys find that in order to excel in a competition, they may have to betray their values and become what they least want to be.
Parts of TalkingCock are inspired, and many people will find it difficult to hide the smile on their lips. An example would be the prologue of the film, which features a very ridiculous joke on how Singapore was founded by Sir Stamford Raffles (who also makes a cameo appearance). Another would be the Turbanator, a menacing character that goes around punishing people who make Bayi (Sikh) jokes. Of course, there is no chance that this film could be brought across international borders, as the humour is native Singaporean. Unfortunately, these are probably the few highlights in this lackluster offering, and most of what directors Colin Goh and Jocelyn Yen deem to be comedy is painfully unfunny.
Although the first two tales about moneylending and handphones have their merits, the following two tales were so pointless and boring that it was a puzzle why the filmmakers green lighted them in the first place. Colin Goh, author of the long-running (and increasingly mirthless) Orchard Road comic strip and the Teenage Textbook and Workbook, should have had much more to offer than this. Some of the interludes were artless and crass, whilst others were plain unfunny and felt like filler in an already padded movie. The directors also seem to be like children who have been let loose in a candy shop. "Hey, lets throw in some Hokkien profanities just for the sake of it! It will be bleeped out, but Im sure Singaporeans will scream with laughter to hear these taboo words uttered on the big screen!"
TalkingCock also purports to feature true Singaporeans, but all we really see are stereotypes - the stereotypical Aunties in their various jobs (carpark attendant, toilet attendant, coffee lady, et al), a Dirty Old Man, an empowered female who doesn't care about grooming, and so on. How many ineSingaporeans really fit so neatly into these molds? Certain more believable stereotypes (especially Ah Bengs and Ah Lians) were given very little screen time, which seems to be a waste of perfectly satirizable material.
TalkingCock is touted to be the first surrealist comedy to emerge from the local film industry, but to give it that name is to undermine the genre completely. TalkingCock is neither funny nor surreal, and after I Not Stupid had succeeded in getting the local film industry partially out of the doldrums, this film feels like a large step backward.
Final Word: This is not a pleasant movie to sit through, and as much as the local movie industry deserves to be supported, such a film really makes one think twice.