Review: Slapstick or emotional? 'Brother of the Year' is both

Marcus Goh
PHOTO: Golden Village Pictures

Brother of the Year is one of those films that defy categorisation because the story veers into wildly different emotional beats at times. While it has some romantic comedy elements, the Thai film also goes into family drama territory. Then again, with a 124-minute runtime, it can afford to delve into all these areas to a somewhat satisfying degree.

If you’re not a fan of slapstick, you can skip the first quarter of the film — which sees the reunion of older brother Chut (Sunny Suwanmethanont) and younger sister Jane (Urassaya Sperbund) after having lived apart for years. It’s the typical clash of personalities as a Type A woman has to find a way to deal with living with a laidback fellow, quarrelling over issues that are as banal as leaving a toilet seat up or down. The opening sees many sight gags, such as cockroaches in a sink full of dirty dishes (which is fairly unbelievable, given how pristine the rest of the house is) and dirty clothes that look clean.

The problem with such a start to the film is that it paints both characters in a bad light. The most obnoxious aspects of their personalities come forth in the opening scenes, leading you to wonder why we would even want to root for the success of either one. Then there are the inconsistencies — Jane is headstrong and independent but still conforms to the gender stereotype of being the default housekeeper and requiring male consent before marriage? Chut is image conscious to a fault, but doesn’t care about how his (presumably expensive) clothes are handled? It forces the funnies by exaggerating the irritating qualities of each character. Thankfully, this is dropped once the plot shows some progression.

PHOTO: Golden Village Pictures

The introduction of Moji (Nichkhun Horvejkul), who eventually becomes Jane’s love interest, is fairly organic and innocuous. The problem is that his character starts bland and stays bland, which is a problem when compared to the two over-the-top characters that he has to share screen time with. This means that the romance between Jane and Moji is a little lacklustre, to put it mildly. If Chut’s character were swapped with Moji’s, it would have made for a far more interesting romance.

PHOTO: Golden Village Pictures

Yet despite the early missteps in characterisation, the film turns surprisingly emotional midway. With deeper revelations and more grounded character insights, the film tugs on the emotional heartstrings that you never knew you had for Chut and Jane. It speaks to the universal quality of sibling relationships, and to an extent family relationships, when you see how the pair behaves in times of extreme crisis. Moji never really does become an interesting character, but then again his character feels more like the fifth wheel in the story, rather than being an integral part of it.

PHOTO: Golden Village Pictures

The movie catches you by surprise, since you’d never have expected the annoying opening to have resulted in an emotional conclusion.

If you can sit through the first Act of “Brother of the Year”, the rest of the movie is actually rather engaging and watchable. It’s just a matter of getting over those slapstick hurdles at the beginning, which almost made this reviewer walk out.

Should you watch this at weekday movie ticket prices? Okay.

Should you watch this at weekend movie ticket prices? If you prefer drama to comedy.

Score: 3.3/5

Secret ending? No, but there are some fun clips in the credits.

Running time: 124 minutes

PHOTO: Golden Village Pictures

Brother of the Year is directed and written by Witthaya Thongyooyong, with additional writing credits for Nontra Kumwong, Tossaphon Riantong, and Adisorn Trisirikasem. It stars Sunny Suwanmethanont (Chut), Urassaya Sperbund (Jane), and Moji (Nichkhun Horvejkul). It is rated PG13.

Marcus Goh is a television scriptwriter, having written for popular shows like “Lion Mums”, “Crimewatch”, “Incredible Tales”, and “Police & Thief”. He’s also a Transformers enthusiast and avid pop culture scholar. You can find him on social media as Optimarcus and on his site. The views expressed are his own.

Follow Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore on Facebook.