China, Comedy, Films, Recommended posts, Reviews

Goodbye Mr. Loser

Fancy going back to your teenage years and amend all your mistakes and regrets? Well…

Goodbye Mr. Loser (夏洛特烦恼) is a 2015 chinese dramedy film based on a stage play that guarantees to set you out laughing every minute! From the comical genius of Yan Fei and Peng Damo comes an all-star comedy lineup (Shen Teng, Ma Li) of mixed emotions along with a memorable, touching story that makes everyone suddenly reflect back upon the value of life, true happiness and the means of appreciation.

Unemployed amateur musician Xia Luo (Shen Teng) attends the wedding of his high school crush Qiu Ya (Wang Zhi). However after confessing his love whilst looking around his old high school mates, many whom have now been successful he reflects upon on his own failures worsened by the sudden appearance of his wife Ma Dongmei (Ma Li) publically humiliating him, he runs away drunk and passes out asleep on the toilet. In his dream state, he returns to the highschool years of 1997 with the knowledge of the future, unknowing that it’s a dream. Believing that god has given him another chance to relive the life he wants, he decides to overrule fate and change history by getting his dream girl and become an international pop star using plagiarized hit songs/ideas from upcoming artists and producers of his younger era. However happiness is short lived as he discovers what true love meant the hard way. What can do when you losing it all again?

Directors Yan Fei and Peng Damo seemed to take the concept of idiocy literally, or were they just trying to represent dreams that couldn’t be achieved when they were teenagers? Just have the lead male Xia Luo act tremendously self-centred and introduce the rest of the main characters as every stereotypical movie character possible (the damsel in distress; the dumb; the bully/villain; the gay…)? The slapstick jokes are often tacky or predictable, yet there are a lot of great moments that are executed with excellent timing and precision. The film’s comical moments also come from the many sneaky intertextual references to the Chinese popular culture of the late 90s which the filmmakers have struck in, including cameo appearances of well-known pop stars of that era. There’s NaYing whom invites Xialuo to sing with her “Meeting1998” – a song that is meant to be written/sung with Wang Fei. Jay chou is found on a look alike copy of the music talent show “The Voice”, singing his own song but now owned by Xia Luo in this alternative reality. It’s the little details like the iconography (clothing, hairstyles, objects-mix tape) that reflects the era, the use of yellowish visuals when Xia Luo seemly gone back in time and the music introduced every time Qiu Ya and Yuan Hua meets romantically because those techniques portrayed was commonly used during the 90s films/TV serials to further the narrative stylistically.

The film’s critical success is not without its backlash, within weeks of release, several social media began accusing Goodbye Mr. Loser as a straight copycat of the 1986 American drama/comedy feature Peggy Sue Got Married directed by Francis Ford Coppola starring Kathleen Turner about as a woman on the verge of a divorce, who finds herself transported back to the days of her senior year in high school during the 1960. Scenes by scene was extracted from both films and directly compared for its styles, narrative and shots. The reports generated millions of views, comments and interests however it was quickly challenged and opposed by the director; production team and cast commenting upon it as an original idea. To be honest there have been many equally controversial films in the past which have been commented for copyright – everyone knows nowadays there’s no such thing as an original idea. But then would you consider every film that came after each other of the same genre a copy? Whether you agree, however, is up to you – watch both and judge for yourself!

You can’t really comment this as a time travelling feature, because it’s not, much happens as a fantasy dreamt by Xia Luo. A film about morals and judgements, Xia Luo is unhappy with his current lifestyle so he decides to relive it by escaping the reality and whilst dreaming. It is true that often when you have it all you lose what’s actually precious…the one that you didn’t love the most or to even thought have hated is the one that stays by your side during the best and the worst of moments, in the end is the one that could make you appreciate that everything that we hold dear, that we did have because once in a while we all have our own selfish desires and needs, but when it truly happens would we still be happy? It’s a film that must be watched to acknowledge!

About the author

Ethan ShiEthan Shi Ethan Shi
A passionate filmmaker that's loved East Asian Cinema since the days of growing up watching Jackie Chan & Stephen Chow, now based in UK & China, collaborating with wide variety of film festivals to producing different genres of short/feature films in the industry, the dream is to bridge the cultural gap through means of media. More »
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