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童夢奇緣 (2005)
Wait 'Til You're Older

Reviewed by: ewaffle
Date: 02/29/2008

“Wait ‘til You’re Older” tells the story of the marriage of Chan Man and Tsui Man, a union that is plagued by unstated fear, hatred and disgust that explodes when their oldest son runs away from home and refuses to return. They had been able to keep things together, to paper over the unforgivable and unforgiven behavior of Chan Man. Their son, Chan Chi Kwong, hates Tsui Man, his stepmother, blaming her and his father for the death of his mother. It is a Gordian knot, an unsolvable problem for which there is no Alexandrian bold stroke. Kwong’s anger at almost everything and everyone around him is white-hot. He hates his life and hates his parents. He has a crush on his teacher, the lovely Miss Lee and likes to hang around with a hobo in the park who claims to be an inventor. He befriends Bear, an oversized and clumsy fellow student who is a member of the school basketball team and who is treated like an outcast by the other players. That his father is the basketball coach further complicates his relationship with the other kids on the team.

Kwong runs away from home regularly; his guilt-ridden father tracks him down, almost always in a now abandoned house where Kwong formerly lived, and bribes him to return home. Kwong is saving every dollar he extorts from his father, planning his permanent escape. His way out is through a magic potion he steals from his odd friend in the park, a potion that ages him thirty years overnight. Now an adult (or at least in the body of an adult) Kwong finds that being a kid might not have been so bad after all. He is introduced to some of the difficulties that adults face—an unhappy spouse, an unrewarding job and disrespect from children are just some of what he sees—and while he doesn’t like them he begins to see that life will always be a series of compromises and that thinking of the happiness of another may make one happy. It is a lesson that is difficult to learn when given years to do so but Kwong manages to figure things out in a couple of days.

Pretending to be Bear’s brother he is able to spend time around the school and watches his father and his father’s co-worker and friend Vice Principal Chow deal with day to day problems at work and with their families. Kwong sees his father in a different and more favorable light but still hates his stepmother. He is the agent that forces a change in the relationship between Chan Man and Tsui Man, coming home with Chan and adding fuel to a fire that goes from smoldering to blazing in a few seconds. The movie ends with Chan and Tsui realizing that they will have a better life together than apart and that just enough love and respect survive in the relationship to allow it to work.

The main image patterns in “Wait ‘til You’re Older” concern watching. Kwong climbs a tree that allows him to see but not hear what is happening in his family’s apartment—he is unable to change anything but has a privileged position as someone who can see without being seen. He escapes into a fantasy world of the “Ghost Hand”, shadow puppets that he casts on the walls of his former home which is his refuge when he runs away, much as the audience at a movie, especially a movie with several guaranteed tear-jerking scenes, talented and monstrously attractive actresses, outstanding production design and well done animation effects, will escape for a couple of hours into the dreamland that it creates.

Karen Mok is perfect as the long-suffering stepmother who finally snaps under the pressure of Kwong’s hatred and her husband’s duplicity. Karen Mok has been perfect or close to it throughout her film career (at least the parts I have seen) so this isn’t surprising but it is still wonderful to see her effortlessly inhabit a character. She is so affecting that even when she does what seems at the time to be dangerously irresponsible and cruel—grabbing her 10 year old stepson and pushing him out of the apartment, throwing his backpack after him and locking the door behind him—we still can’t condemn her. Felix Wong Yat-Wa portrays Chan Man as weak and fearful, someone who has acted despicably in the past and who will carry his guilt to his grave. Even given such an unlikable character Wong make us sympathize with Chan as a person who understands his faults but is willing to be an everyday existential man, going on with his life in the face of its meaninglessness and absurdity.

Andy Lau is upstaged to some extent by the well done aging make-up and by some outrageous inconsistencies in the script. Kwong goes back and forth from being a child suddenly trapped in an adult’s body to a wise elder who understands the world better than anyone else. The screenwriters make one attempt to explain this dissonance but then give up and make Kwong think like a ten year old, a thirty year old or a seventy year old depending on what the situation calls for. It is a major failing and one that I found distracting.

Miss Lee was even more distracting. She was happy to sneak around with the very dull Chow, sharing a bottle of wine and her body with him in the locked chemistry lab after the school closed for the day. She was available under any circumstances, even after he announced his engagement to another teacher at the school. In a way Miss Lee represented the ideal woman for a horny teenage boy—accessible, convenient, extremely sexy and always willing to disappear afterwards. We first meet her—the very desirable Cherrie Ying—when she walks to school with Kwong. The sight of Miss Lee speedwalking, heel and toeing her way through a crowd of adolescent and pre-adolescent boys, her sweat-suit clad hips swaying with each step would have caused a riot at any school I can think of.

There are a number of small but very well done touches in “Wait ‘til Your’re Older” that show real attention to detail. In one case the now thirty year old Kwong is comforting Miss Lee. She is crying and he reaches into his backpack, grabs a superhero action figure, tears off its cape and handing her the cape as a handkerchief. When Kwong has dinner with Bear and Bear’s family he is part of a very odd set up. Bear’s father lives in Hong Kong in what seems to be a high tech junk shop. His stepmother and siblings are temporarily in the Mainland, at the stepmother’s family farm. The chat over dinner using an audio/video link that perfectly synchronizes their movements and speech—very cutting edge stuff—but behind Bear’s stepmother are a few huge pigs. The up to date link goes from a junk shop to a pig farm, Bear’s stepmother is a generation (or so) younger than his father and they are clearly separated for much of the time. But they are still a loving if odd family, one that strengthens and nurtures all of the people in it.

The animation was extremely well done and seamlessly integrated into the live action. It didn’t overwhelm the story but added significantly to our understanding of the pull of a fantasy life for Kwong.


Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 03/06/2007

Quite a moving movie, with a universal theme that life can be too short, but really its what you make of it that counts!! There are two sides to every story, forgiveness and happiness.

The other reviewers have said plenty, i do agree that a child young in mind turns into a child with a mature brain is a bit out there but sometimes children see what adults dont, or they are smarter than what we take them for!!

One of the better movies for 2005

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: JohnR
Date: 11/30/2006
Summary: Very Palatable Message Movie

This movie begins in a whimsical, magical, way; the images and bright colors make you think you've just loaded a particularly chipper Disney DVD. But that tone only lasts long enough to put you into the mind and spirit of the child hero of the film. As you get into his life, you see there are significant dark sides, and the mood of the film changes. But don't get the idea that this is a spiral from sunshine and rainbows to chthonic darkness, there are bright spots throughout and the ending, though admirably avoiding the call of Hollywood, is dipped in optimism.

The theme of the movie might be "It's not how much time you have on Earth, it's what you do with your time." Or, "You can waste your time fighting against the inevitable, or spend it helping others."

It's soft-spoken, not preachy; competently made and acted, not flashy. Not a great movie, but a good one. The writer takes some (forgivable) shortcuts, and the logic is stretched a bit (that's a mighty mature young boy - it's his body that's grown, not his life experiences - how'd he get so sage?). But the negatives are minor.

(Cherrie Ying fans: she's just a flower vase here. I wish they could have given her something to do beyond just display her captivating smile.)


Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: j.crawford
Date: 11/26/2006
Summary: odd family fantasy film

Andy Lau Tak-Wah co-stars with Karen Mok Man-Wai in this odd family fantasy film directed, produced, and co-written by Teddy Chen Tak-Sum, who gave us the films Downtown Torpedoes (1997) and Purple Storm (1999). Screenplay co-written by producer Cheung Chi-Gwong and Susan Chan Suk-Yin borrows a basic premise from the Hollywood movie Big and infuses it with a decidedly Hong Kong flavor.

Kwong has a troubled home life and is goofed on by classmates at school. He has a crush on his teacher (Cherrie Ying Choi-Yi) and hates his stepmother (Mok) but is too young to understand his father's personal struggles. He wishes he could be a grown-up and straighten out his world. He gets his hands on a magic potion and wakes up as Andy Lau. He, of course, begins to see everything differently and most of it is not so good. The scenario goes through some dark, adult places and manages to jerk some tears when the filmmakers keep a child-like point of view on the proceedings.

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 02/28/2006

This site seems to be all about going from one extreme to another lately. After reviewing Andy Lau's violent crime movie Tian Di, now we're taking a look at Wait 'Til You're Older, one of the few Category I (Hong Kong's version of the "G" rating) pictures reviewed here. Similar to Tian Di taking a cue from The Untouchables, Wait 'Til You're Older also gets inspiration from from a US movie, this time the Tom Hanks comedy/drama Big. Unlike the Hanks film, Wait 'Til You're Older is a very melancholy look at family relationships and aging, and will probably surprise those viewers looking for a light-hearted romp.

The story concerns a boy named Kwong (played in young form by Sit Lap-Yin and older form by Andy Lau) who lost his mother (Lee Bing-Bing) and does not get along with his stepmother (Karen Mok). He's also picked on by the kids at school for being small, and the teacher he has a crush on (Cherrie Ying) only treats him like a little brother. So when Kwong spots a potion devised by a seemingly crazy old man (Feng Xiaogang) that ages things overnight, he steals and uses it. The potion works -- Kwong becomes an adult, and manages to both help his best friend and impress his teacher with his new-found size. However, the aging process continues on at an acclerated rate, and Kwong soon becomes an old man. After learning the truth about his mother and father's relationship, Kwong tries to patch things up with his family before his time expires.

Wait 'Til You're Older was kind of a mixed bag for me. It does some things, like the special effects and aging makeup on Andy, quite well. The acting is also solid for the most part. I was especially impressed with Sit Lap-Yin; normally, child actors in bigger roles drive me up the wall (i.e., Dakota Fanning in War of the Worlds) but Sit does an excellent job of portraying a child with a soul that's a bit too old for his body. The movie is paced well -- even though really all that goes on here is people talking, there didn't seem to be a lot of "dead" spots.

Unfortunately, Wait 'Til You're Older's climax becomes heavy-handed and melodramatic -- not to mention more than a bit unbelieveable. I will give the film-makers credit for not taking the easy way out with either a sappy Hollywood-style ending or a typical Hong Kong drama ultra-depressing one. The ending itself is actually touching and will probably conjure up some tears from the less jaded of you out there. It's just a shame that Wait 'Til You're Older takes such an awkward path to get there. It almost totally ruins what could have otherwise been one of the more solid Hong Kong movies from 2005.

[review from]

Reviewer Score: 5

Reviewed by: evirei
Date: 10/23/2005
Summary: A beautiful story that will make you understand more about the wonders of life.

It's always a dream for a kid to be a grown up. Kids always wants to be a gorwn up thinking how fun it would be if they are grown ups and have lots of freedom to do just anything that they like. This movie has a lot of similarities to movies like "13 going on 30" and "Jack". A movie that tells tales about a kid transform into a fully grown up adult the next day.

The movie started of with a powerful zoom in shot of felix wong smoking. This strong opening has already give us a stong hint that "life is short" as he manages to take big puff at a go.

Felix wong takes up the role of being andy's dad is in constant dilemma when andy runs away from home almost every other day because he blames his dad and stepmother (Karen Mok) that cause his mother to commit suicide. Because of this, andy always plays trick on karen while his dad keeps on giving into his demands.

One night, karen finally can't take it anymore and chase andy out of the house. Having no where to go, andy wander around the playground and met this weird old guy who have this potion that can speed up life process. As andy is so eager to be a grown up, he decided to steal the potion. When the old man noticed and chase after him, he got tripped and broken the bottle. Not noticing that the potion is reacting to his body when he got cut by the broken glasses, he grew old the next morning.

He then went back to school to look for his buddy and tries to help him. Andy and his buddy accidently bumps in to Cherrie (andy's teacher) whom he always liked because she also has 3 holes at her ears and his school assistant principle's affair.

In some confusion, andy's buddy accidently send out cherrie's affair to everyone. Being upset, cherrie hides herself. Feeling guilty and worried, andy went to search for her and they started to talk and drink. Cherrie soon starts to fall in love with andy. Andy also find chances to talk to his dad and try to understand why his dad was always not happy and tries to run away from reality.

When andy, his dad and his assistant principle sit down and have a man to man talk, he finally understands that it's not easy to be an adult. He then follows his dad home and tries to make karen upset again. He succeeded, however he also finds out that the table has turned. Karen and Felix was actually happily married until andy's mum comes in to the picture. Andy was shocked and upset for he has mistaken and misunderstand all this while.

However it's too late to change everything as he is ageing rapidly.

I like the story as it is really meaningful and the whole theme of this story is actually "life is short, so treasure every moment you have". Everyone around us believe we are still young and have a lot of time to waste but actually not. There is a quote from the movie that is so true, "God gave everyone the same time, it's actually up to us how we really use it."

The sad part is everyone only lived once and not everything in this world can start back at the starting point. But the happy part is also we only need to go through life once and there is no repeats.

My verdict, a beautiful story that will make you understand more about the wonders of life. It definately deserves a big space in my heart and I will surely bring enough tissues with me when I watch it again the next time.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Reviewer Score: 9