Black face, in my communist movies? It’s more likely than you think!

Featuring

Chao Deng as Mei Yuangei
Yang Mi as Ye Xiaochun
Chao Weiliang as Mountain Tang
Na Zha as Xiao Zhuang
Xu Kejia as Old Six

From the film authorities of no less than four cities, comes Communism’s latest attempt at comedy, replete with no discernable plot, racism, homoeroticism and homophobia mixed with some laughs derived from comedy movie tropes. Welcome to The Break Up Guru, were the first thing that happens is a bout of black face…

In fairness to the people who made this movie, it’s probably no more offensive to politically correct types than American Pie when it first came out. But then again, that was fifteen years ago, and is probably (as sad as this may sound), an accurate reflection on the typical teenaged male’s trials and tribulations in high school. However, it’s been some time since a western movie had overt homophobia used as a gag, or for that matter, having a character pretending to be a black guy, now that you mention it.

In fairness to the people that made this movie, it’s probably no more offensive to politically correct types, than American Pie.

The whole promise of The Breakup Guru, is that Mei Yuangei is Beijing’s most effective instigator of breakups, where he seduces women using one of his alter egos, thereby making the woman leave the man, even though it’s the men that employ him. His last job as a breakup artist, is to get Ye Xiaochun to fall in love with him, and forget his employer, Mountain Tang, allowing him to get his company’s IPO successfully launched.

Mei employs all of the tricks he’s used in previous jobs to complete his assignment. They include, but are in no way limited to, expressing his feminine side as a catwalk model, his masculine side by singing naked in the shower, and even resorting to some drugs aimed at enhancing a female’s “desire”.

Sadly, this movie reflects the sad state of Chinese society. Sure, it’s all meant in good fun, and probably goes down a storm in the Motherland, where cheap jokes get you a long way. But starting the movie off with Mei pretending to be the King of Mauritius, by donning make up that is far darker than the actual Mauritians, is pretty poor form. To add insult to injury, showing just how easily women in China are lured away from their relationships, is a reflection on some the symptoms of superficiality in a society growing up much too quickly.

The movie’s main angle of attack for the comedy is an in-your-face level of stupid gags.

It might even have been worth the effort to watch the movie, were it not for the other problems plaguing it. Xiaochun is your typical female in trouble, with no redeeming features other than her purity, goodness and permanently sad face. Mei is your usual scoundrel-cum-good guy, with an amazing repertoire of tricks and skills that are impossible to possess (master ice skater, right…).

The movie’s main angle of attack for the comedy is an in-your-face level of stupid gags. And Deng Chao’s many stupid faces. Sometimes, they do get it right, but the jokes are a matter of hit and miss. He’s actually quite an accomplished actor, and in fact, he starred in a decent 2013 biographical drama called American Dreams in China, about a bunch of university graduates from Beijing who make it big by teaching english in China, and helping hopeful students get into overseas universities themselves. Breakup Guru absolutely wastes Deng’s talents and reflects poorly on whoever made the thing.

The Breakup Guru is one of those movies that makes you cringe during the proceedings, much more than once. A lot of the jokes don’t really work, though that could be because my sense of humour is tainted by shows like Frasier. It says a lot about society in China and just how damaged people are there, not because of Communism, but because of the way that people have dealt with poverty, and then, sudden great opportunity to grab a slice of wealth. Essentially, they forgot the responsibility part. You might laugh when you’re in the theatre, but you’ll come out wondering just what kind of screwed up place China is, when you realise the movie kind of glorifies solving your problems with deceit, rather than honesty and integrity.

Rating

I gave this a “meh” rating during the screening, and then quickly realised it was as healthy as spending a day in Beijing’s smog upon reflection.

Should I watch this?

Watching this movie is like getting drunk. It seems like fun at the start, but you’ll likely wake up in a rubbish bin with a massive hangover, missing an eyebrow and a tooth. Then the Google Street View car will drive past and immortalises your moment of shame forever.

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