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Huat Ah! Huat Ah! Huat: A feel-good ‘Kampung’ tale

"Huat Ah! Huat Ah! Huat", is a humorous, feel-good film that is filled with colourful characters.

SINGAPORE: “Huat Ah! Huat Ah! Huat!” is a feel-good film that highlights the importance of honesty and hard work.

Fortunately, the film never gets preachy, and the message is wrapped up in a pleasant, humour-laden package.

“Huat Ah! Huat Ah! Huat!” (“HAHAH”) sees Malaysian singer-actor Aniu plays the autistic ‘Kampung’ (Malay for ‘village’)  boy Ah Huat who spends his time playing with the village children, and keeps getting fired from jobs because he is honest to a fault, and none too smart.

One day, he learns how to make amazing coffee from a kindly old man, and becomes the main attraction at his idyllic village.

But when he discovers his grandfather Da Chai (Marcus Chin) is ill and needs an expensive operation, Ah Huat leaves the village, as well as his fishmonger sweetheart Xiao Ping (Hong Kong singer-actress Joyce Cheng) behind, to work for a wealthy businesswoman and earn money to pay for the operation.

Things take a turn for the worse when his employee attempts to cheat him, leaving him with nothing but his coffee-making skills to find a way out for both himself and his grandfather.

After years of playing innocent, guileless characters in films like 2010’s “Puppy Love Ice Kachang” and 2011’s “The Wedding Diary”, Aniu has it down to a fine art, and turns in an excellent performance as Ah Huat in “HAHAH”.

He manages to bring out the naivete of Ah Huat and his yearning for acceptance in a world where profit and the pursuit of it, is paramount.

Aniu has great chemistry with Chin, and is a joy to watch whenever they share a scene.

Cheng also does a reasonable job playing Xiao Ping, but it is the strong supporting cast like Sam Chong, who plays an unscrupulous fruit seller, and Elvis Chin, who plays a sly insurance agent, which really makes the show shine.

Of course, the film is not without its flaws.

The romance between Ah Huat and Xiao Ping doesn’t quite get fleshed out and makes it hard for viewers to understand the attraction between them.

The film also feels juvenile with its whimsical songs and sometimes lame jokes.

However, “HAHAH” is still a highly-watchable film with colourful characters and hilarious comedy scenes.

While it may seem like a simple comedy on the surface, “HAHAH” actually offers insightful commentary on issues like modern youths’ obsession with technology, and people’s preoccupation with keeping up appearances.

It isn’t mere ‘empty calories’, but an interesting film that is well worth a look.

3.5/5 stars.

“Huat Ah! Huat Ah! Huat!” is now showing.

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