Love Is Pyjamas
Title explanation time. Love is…Pyjamas derives its clothing-as-metaphor title from an old Chinese saying: “Men are brothers, women are laundry,” implying that a man should revere other men while women should be regarded as, well, laundry. While such patriarchal proverbs are now correctly viewed as offensive (and even lead some Asian females to sing the praises of miscegenation), they also provide ample fodder for sly deconstruction through cheesy all-star Hong Kong comedies. Thus, Vincent Kok and Raymond Wong give us the idea of “men as clothing” with Love is…Pyjamas. This workplace comedy tells the story of women who compete to design female-empowering fashion. Women run this show, while the men are ornamental and only exist to support the women in their forthright endeavors. Presumably, the film ends with chauvinist men getting theirs while the women stride off independent and triumphant. Take that, you patriarchal self-absorbed bastards! Hong Kong Cinema: finally progressive.
Just kidding. The only thing progressive about Love is…Pyjamas is that it relegates Raymond Wong to a slightly lesser role than is typically the case in his self-produced efforts. Otherwise this is business as usual for Hong Kong’s tone deaf male filmmakers. Wong plays Hugo, the owner of a clothing company that employs his sister C.T. Yu (Teresa Mo) and her daughter Karena (Karena Ng). Sparks fly when Jojo Wang (Lynn Xiong) is hired and becomes their rival. Here’s how that starts: once upon a time, Hugo was in love with Muse (Hai Qing), but after he shot off his mouth with that “men are brothers, women are laundry” line she smartly dumped him. Ten years later, they’re entering into a business deal but she wants a fashion line reflecting the idea of “men as clothing.” C.T. Yu and Jojo start sniping at their first meeting, so Hugo arranges for a competition between the two women to impress Muse. Mild amusement hopefully ensues.
Love is…Pyjamas may sound like a vaguely interesting workplace comedy but since the whole thing is composed of lazy gags, endless talky dialogue and terrible comic timing, any admiration for the film’s original concept flies out the window. There are some funny ideas in Love is…Pyjamas, starting with Ronald Cheng’s role as Fai, an employee at the Lifestyle Extra Company acting agency. He plays pretend for his clients, which leads to a promising gag where he tries to impress everyone at a funeral. Sadly, the gag is played lifelessly and without any filmmaking wit — hey, just like the rest of the movie! Compositions are flat, scenes are lazily paced and product placement is annoyingly rampant. Also, at one point Cheng wears blackface and pretends to be a woman named Beyonce, whereupon he says to an admiring Caucasian, “You just want to tap this ass!” You may want to avoid that puddle because I just lost my lunch.
Commercial movies exist partially to satiate star-seekers, and in this film that’s Raymond Lam or nothing. The hunky TVB star plays Lucky Owen, a rich guy known for indirectly helping women find their true loves using the same plot device from the Hollywood comedy Good Luck Chuck. Owen is Fai’s cousin and both end up working with C.T. Yu and Karena to defeat Jojo. Complicating matters is a previous fling between Owen and Jojo, plus Fai’s distracting desire to chase his dreams and design a blockbuster mobile app. Karena and Fai start an innocent attraction but C.T. Yu disapproves, and Hugo still loves Muse — well, you can see where this leads: to a contrived finale where everyone admits their love for everyone else while getting rich and becoming the best of friends. Super yawn. Too much plot description is usually a no-no for a film review, but in this case it’s necessary because the film has nothing else going for it.
Notable events — not “highlights” because that implies a positive connotation — in the film: there’s an extended sequence where Raymond Lam hangs out in a sauna, meaning glimpses of Lam’s bare chest and a moment where he puts ice down his pants to cool his boys. Also, C.T. Yu and Karena have a minor falling out, leading to lame drama and two scenes where Teresa Mo award baits by crying and delivering dialogue simultaneously. There’s also some hoo-ha about the true meaning of “men as clothing,” but based on what happens in the film, the answer appears to be “Uniqlo.” Love is…Pyjamas can kill time but its existence only serves as a bitter reminder that Vincent Kok is making inferior films to his nineties work. Only Fools Fall in Love, Cause We Are So Young and Forbidden City Cop were fun and even insightful movies — all things that this film is not. Love may be pyjamas but this movie is pants. (Kozo, 2012)
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