Monday, February 25, 2008

Flower Drum Song

As a movie adapted from a musical, I realize that elements of this movie are supposed to require the viewer to acknowledge that this was a musical, and that it's okay for characters to break out into song and take some liberties, but even so, this movie made me physically cringe several times as I watched it. For example, the scene where Mei Li brings Wang Ta's father breakfast, where he said, "Personally I do not agree with the old custom of drowning daughters" - I'm pretty sure I fell off my seat when he said that. Sorry, just had to get that out of my head.

In terms of the actual substance of the movie, I liked that the plot was not completely contrived. It definitely makes use of stereotypes, but I feel that it was done ways that furthered the plot or for humor, rather than to limit the range of the character's personalities. Many characters acted a stereotype, like Wang Ta's father, whose mannerisms and improper verb conjugations marked him as foreign, but through the use of lines like the line about drowning daughters, or "when that day come when you are able to think for yourself, I will let you know!," the characters conveyed the feeling that they were not limited to their stereotypical images through their provoking of unexpected feelings, such as humor. I feel like some parts of the stereotypes still remained strong in my mind after the movie; Mei Li still struck me as the obedient Chinese daughter who followed her father's every order, and Linda, who is not quite the "dragon lady" stereotype, is still reminiscent of that role. In the end though, I felt that their portrayals were far more important to the love story that is the movie. It's interesting that Linda, who acted manipulative and gregarious at times did so because of 5 years waiting for marriage, and Mei Li, who in the traditional search for marriage, learned to break out from traditional roles.

Switching gears, Wang Ta was a character that I liked very much, because he identified strongly with the idea that he was both Chinese and American, as opposed to extremes like his father and his brother. I sympathized with his portrayal of an "Asian American," or specifically "Chinese American," coming into conflict with his father's traditional ideals, but also not assimilating completely into American culture like his younger brother. Throughout the movie, I felt he was the most relatable and down to earth character and in fulfilling this role, he showed an Asian American face to American society that was, at least I felt, realistic and pretty unsterotypical, if not as as outwardly colorful as the other characters.

No comments: