A slapstick comedy that never takes itself seriously
Rony Patra -
What is the story about?
Love and friendships blossom, as a motley group of misfits working together at an upscale Malaysian hotel try to save themselves when a group of kidnappers take the son of a billionaire hostage.
Making a slapstick comedy is not easy. The one rule of slapstick comedy is that the screenplay can never take itself seriously, or it will fall flat on its face. All Because of You (Pasal Kau), Netflix's first-ever Malaysian original film is the perfect example of this. Director Adrian Teh's film centres around his two leads, the hotel staff Aiman and the chef Jane, and Jane's attempts to woo Aiman. But he also creates a memorable group of delightful characters who work at the hotel, led by the sprightly manager, Mr. Maznan, who's always obsessed with the five-star rating. The guests also have their own idiosyncrasies. There are a group of influencers, led by the beautiful Sofia, and a blind man who hates being escorted, even if he walks into a wall.
The focus on Aiman and Jane's will-they-wont-they dynamic sometimes takes away from the hustle and bustle of the other characters in the hotel. It is not as if this particular arc is bad, but the few dramatic moments these characters have to threaten to take away from the silliness of the movie at times. Shamaine Othman and Nazri Annuar's screenplay works best when it focusses on the rest of the hotel staff and the guests.
Once some of the guests are revealed to be kidnappers who want to take Tengku Iskandar, the heir to a billionaire, as a hostage, the tenor of the film's narrative changes slightly. But the screenplay never loses its humour even when the circumstances change, with the last 40 minutes becoming a series of silly gags and laugh-out-loud moments as a group of hotel employees led by Aiman and Mr. Maznan try to rescue Jane and Tengku Iskandar and outwit the kidnappers, much in the style of a Priyadarshan comedy.
The main aim of the screenplay is to entertain, and it manages to do that in spite of having many loopholes and plot points. It is only when someone sits down to dissect those that the film starts faltering. Overall, though, the film is enjoyable.
Hairul Azreen, who has written the story, is perfectly cast as the bumbling and kind-hearted hotel staff Aiman, while Janna Nick is charming as Jane. Among the other employees, Amerul Affendi and Nam Ron are memorable as Parjo and Mr. Maznan respectively. As Tengku Iskandar, Josiah Hogan has nothing much to do except look suave and helpless, which he does very well. Sophia Barakbah, Sugeeta Chandran and Anna Jobling play Sofia, Maria and Emelia, the influencers hiding an evil secret of their own. Noted Malaysian actress and presenter Jasmine Suraya Chin has a blink-and-miss appearance at the beginning.
Music & Other Departments
The entire film is set in a hotel, and therefore the production design is top-notch. The costume design also deserves a round of applause. The music is strictly average, though.
This is a screenplay where the jokes keep flying thick and fast. There's a hilarious scene where Aiman and his colleagues try to win an argument by indulging in a farting contest. There are other gags too, such as when one of the characters dons a knight's armour in order to fight a kidnapper, or when a character who can’t speak English decides to express his frustration by spray-painting “beach” for the word “bitch” on a boat. The final showdown is depicted in anime-style, which makes the proceedings even more hilarious to watch.
The biggest drawback in this comedy is the characterization of the kidnappers. For a group that bring the element of crisis to the proceedings, it is never clear to the audience why they want to kidnap Tengku Iskandar. There is just no back story for them, and it baffles you even when you’re watching the ridiculous proceedings.
Also, the constant attempts at fat-shaming and homophobic humour sometimes take away the joy from the proceedings.
Did I enjoy it?
I loved it. This is screwball comedy at its finest, and an (unintentional) tribute to the comedies of Farah Khan, Priyadarshan and the Farrelly brothers.
Do I recommend it?
You can give this a one-time watch. It’s hilarious, and doesn’t require you to exert your brain much.