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Love in Space
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by Jay Seaver

"Lost, whether in space or on Earth."
1 stars

Movies that get their science wrong (by, say, having one character in a microgravity environment throw something at another only to have it slowly float across the room like it was underwater) annoy me; movies that flaunt their ignorance (having the second character snidely comment about how the first should have known that was going to happen) just flat-out tick me off. Basic physics is not hard, even for creative writing majors! But I'll leave the examples of bad science at that example, because (a) many people, sadly, just don't care; (b) it only really impacts one of "Love in Space"'s four storylines; and (c) even without those errors, this film is plenty stupid.

Mary Huang (Xu Fan) has always loved flowers; all three of the widow's relationship-challenged children are named after one. Rose (René Liu) is an astronaut, currently on a mission to the International Space Station with Commander Michael Chan (Aaron Kwok) - who happens to be her ex-boyfriend. Lily (Gwei Lun-mei) went to Sydney, Australia to study art, but her germophobia and obsessive-compulsive disorder is holding her back. She has just met a nice guy, Johnny Chen (Eason Chan), but they may not be a perfect match, as he's the "Son" in Chen & Son Trash Collection. Youngest daughter Peony (Wing "Angelababy" Yeung) is an actress who has just received China's equivalent of a Razzie. Having never led a normal life but determined to do much better in an upcoming role as a waitress, she takes a job in a café alongside frustrated writer Wen Feng (Jing Boran) - who, shall we say, is not a fan of her work - while her manager "Uncle Hua" nurses a crush on Mary.

While some of these storylines certainly have a lot of miles on them, each one of them has a decent enough idea inside them that a talented filmmaker and a charismatic cast could make an entertaining romantic comedy out of each of the daughters' stories (with Mary and Hua a B-plot for Peony's). Combine those with a fairly strong cast - all seven main cast members are big names in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan - and the raw materials look promising. No, Love in Space is not likely to be a classic, but as cinematic comfort food, it's got potential. Just don't screw it up.

The trouble is, you can screw something up via passivity as well as action. At no point do any of these people do anything that makes for an interesting love story. They just all sort of show up, nice-looking and cutely mismatched, and just sort of mark time until something arbitrary happens to temporarily push them apart for a bit before they come back together. None of the intervening scenes really push the way the audience feels about these characters one way or another, or really have the characters learning something about themselves or each other, so the supposed big moments don't have any weight or meaning. In fact, they backfire; we never learn enough about them for these scenes to seem much more than random or forced.

In fact, directors Tony Chan and Wing Shya (Chan co-wrote the film with Lucretia Ho) sometimes seem to undercut what good ideas they have. Take an early scene where Peony emerges from the back of her van to start her job as a waitress; she looks ridiculous, what an art director would do to create a quirky café girl. But there's not a joke there; the whole movie looks like this. The filmmakers just can't vary their tones enough to make the change funny, tragic, or romantic. And sometimes, the script seems really tone-deaf; for instance, Rose's and Michael's story seems to mostly consist of Michael being a jerk, and this is apparently what wins Rose back.

Suffice it to say, the cast deserves better. Surprisingly, it's the youngest pairing that gets the most out of their material; Angelababy and Jing Boran have genuine chemistry, and the former is able to to underplay what could just be a ridiculous character. Similarly, Gwei Lun-mei doesn't rely on a bunch of obvious ticks to communicate her character's OCD, and Eason Chan has a nicely laid-back performance (and does a passable Australian accent in his English-language dialogue, too).

That this cast manages to put in good performances is almost more frustrating than the moments that are mailed in. "Love in Space" doesn't have huge ambitions, but these actors with enough resources for a glossy movie should be able to easily meet them. Instead, the filmmakers seems to make every wrong decision they can; you'd think that they'd get at least one thing right.

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originally posted: 09/12/11 12:23:09
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User Comments

7/21/12 Sean Harrison Another crappy update to a classic TV series. 1 stars
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  09-Sep-2011 (PG)



Directed by
  Tony Chan
  Wing Shya

Written by
  Lucretia Ho
  Tony Chan

  Aaron Kwok
  Eason Chan
  Rene Liu
  Gwei Lun Mei
  Xu Fan
  Jing Boran

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