This really is an odd one. A follow-up to the fun but light “My Wife is 18” from 2002, a film that I actually enjoyed a lot, but I can’t believe anyone was screaming out for a sequel a decade later, so to be honest, I was more than a little wary of it. But you know how it can be, sometimes these things actually work! still harbours dreams of travel And everyone here knows about my love of Ms Choi. Not sure why the title is more akin to that of a totally different movie, but that is just Hong Kong for you.
Taking up the story a decade later, in “My Sassy Hubby” we catch up with our age-distanced couple – Thirteen Cheung (Ekin Cheng) and Yo Yo Ma (Charlene Choi). Thirteen is now a proper Professor, teaching the psychology of Love and Relationships to his adoring students. Yo Yo runs her own fashion boutique. But all is not well in paradise. Despite what he is teaching, the couple have settled into a bit of a rut – he settling into a comfortable middle age, whilst she still harbours dreams of travel and babies. There are arguments, but it is when it becomes clear that they are not actually married (apparently the Englishman who presided over their Wedding back then did not have the correct credentials), that the couple embark on a separation. Whilst apart, a couple of dalliances occur – Yo Yo is wood by a childhood sweetheart called Lam (Izz Tsui) who has been carrying a candle for 20 years, and Thirteen undergoes a relationship with a mainland student called Tong Yi (Zhang Xinyi), who just happens to be bright and smart and an expert chef and also a part time model (not only that, but she is almost a clone visually of Zhou Xun). It does seem on the face of it that (just like as in “Love in the Buff”) our characters have actually found more suitable partners, but we all know that true love is about much more than what is happening on the front cover don’t we?
Rather amazingly, I had to swallow my preconceptions about this one. Whilst it isn’t a movie that I was calling out for, it ends up being far more worthwhile than I could ever have hoped. Firstly, it is a proper sequel, continuing characters and themes from the first movie through – so often these films are related in name or vague character similarity only. Not only that, but it is actually really funny. And finally, it’s got a fair bit of proper heart.
The humour comes in two flavours. First, we have the relationship between Thirteen and Yo Yo, who do come across as a realistic if unlikely couple. Cheng and Choi do have an obvious chemistry. Sure this is the more fun Choi that can be a little annoying (sadly her talents as a serious actress are still woefully underused), but she does tone it down. Cheng is brilliant – I am not the first to point out his limitations as an actor, but he seems really comfortable here, maybe helped by playing someone that is quite possibly going through that same kind of mid-life crisis. The second humour aspect comes from the background characters, whether it be Yo Yo’s rather brash cousin (Joyce Cheng), or the rather brilliant (and even more mis-matched) couple next door (Wong Cho Lam and Fatumai). These characters have all the best lines, but importantly they are not over-used. Zhang Xinyi and Izz Tsui have less to do other than make themselves look good.
The film moves along briskly, and on the whole works pretty well. There are a couple of set pieces that don’t quite work (the dinner party ends up being just too uncomfortable, and the diving lesson strangely aggressive towards Thirteen). It is also fair to say that the films conclusion seems a tad rushed, not really giving us a real sense of threat that the relationship is about to be damaged irrevocably. But I was having so much fun, I really did not have time to care much about that.
Is the film really that original, does it give us great insight into the human condition? No, of course not, it is really nothing more than silly fluff. But my gosh, it is fun fluff. It is the kind of film that Hong Kong has forgotten how to make in recent years, and despite the presence of a pretty mainland face, there didn’t seem to be any overt political overtones in this regard. Recommended!