“I Not Stupid” #atozchallenge2017

NOTE: This was written years back.

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I Not Stupid (A Review)

Jack Neo‘s I Not Stupid is a film which digs into Singapore’s flawed educational system and how it affects society

More than a month ago, my eyes got all puffy again and I blamed Jack Neo for it. If a law was ever passed against making women cry using movies, he would be in death row by now.

Of course, as you can gather from my reaction, I am actually starting to love Neo (just don’t remind me about his Liang Po Po slapstick). After watching Homerun, here was another Neo flick that had my tears streaming down my face uncontrollably – I Not Stupid (I.N.S.) or Xiǎohái Bù Bèn. Clever devil. Even his title screams with comic irony.

Compared to the first film aforementioned, I.N.S. is another Singaporean political and, more specifically, social satire. The treatment, however, is more direct though not literal. Without ever having to guess, one would not need to read any background on Singapore to realize that the film is satirical.

The whole movie is full of similes and metaphors – mostly directly injected in dialogue – that pertain to the country’s government and its people. For around two hours, we are given a peek, a good peek, at one of Asia’s well-known nations. At the same time, neighboring countries may recognize a thing or two about Singapore that resemble(s) a thing or two about themselves.

Strictly speaking, the story is about and narrated by Terry (Huang Po-Ju), a little rich boy who could be so obedient to an annoying fault. Actually, the story revolves not only around Terry, but also around poor toughie Boon Hock (Joshua Ang) and misunderstood artist Kok Pin (Shawn Lee). Well, around them and their parents, to be more exact.

The adults have their own sub-plots that cannot be simply ignored. Each of the boys belongs to section EM3 where all the kids perceived as lazy, troublesome and dumb always end up and are considered hopeless future adults. The parents, on the other hand, basically play the part of society and government. Special focus is on Singaporean education, both in school and in society.

As a satire, I found I.N.S. simple, direct, and effective in communicating the message. As a non-Singaporean, I cannot, in all honesty agree with all of Neo’s opinions. I cannot, simply because I have never met a Singaporean in the flesh, been to Singapore, personally talked to anyone who has, or discussed the country with online buddies. But as far as freedom of speech is concerned, through the use of a powerful medium, I say, yes, Neo conveyed his message very well. In fact, right at the start, he made it clear through the narration.

However, it wasn’t the “underlying” content that got to me. It was Kok Pin and his mother that made me cry.  I was doing fine until Kok Pin got up the building and…I should have known it would be about family again or I would have bought some tissue! As for funny moments, even if it was supposed to be comedy, there wasn’t a lot to laugh at, literally or not. At least I didn’t find much of the story funny. Sorry.

i-not-stupid

The kids who aren’t really stupid

I.N.S. is a brave, intelligent film done in-your-face.  It was created not to confuse but rather inform the audience and perhaps, serve as a wake-up call. It is not a stab (in fact, there is an “appreciative” comment near the end regarding “mothers”) but rather, just a prick to remind the government to do what is proper and right when it comes to educating its people. No need to beat around the bush. After all, we not stupid.

Therefore, I highly recommend this movie. Not as powerful as I found Homerun, but still a very commendable piece. I can’t wait to see another one of Jack’s Neo-isms. This guy is not to be missed. After all, he most definitely not stupid!

 

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I know I am late. I will reserve the explanation once the challenge is done through the insights. The short of it is I don’t feel well, my laptop is slow, it’s super-hot here, and it’s currently Holy Week.

I do hope you liked my post. I thought I’d share this review I wrote years ago. Once in a while, I do reviews, so if you’re interested in reading more, they’re at my CRITIC’S CORNER.

I is for, well, “I”

This piece serves as my Letter I post for the A to Z Challenge 2017.

If you’re interested:

A for Alibata – How to Spell the Ancient Filipino Way

B for Block – “How do you personally deal with writer’s block?”

C for Contents – Contents with all the Feels

D for Dialogue – Why Dialogue is Important

E for Edit – Mark Your Words!

F for Fictional Characters – “Which fictional character that you created is your favorite, and why?”

G for Grammar – GRRRR-rammar!!!

H is for Haiku – The Haiku

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