Movie titles don’t come any more on the nose than Friend Zone. The romantic comedy starts out with one of the characters being “friendzoned” by the other, hence the title — but doesn’t every romance start out with one side being “friendzoned” by the other? Unless both characters are falling in love with each other simultaneously and at the same level of intensity, one half of the couple is bound to be “friendzoned” for a period of time.
As with many other romantic comedies, Thai movie Friend Zone starts with a besotted male protagonist Palm (Naphat Siangsomboon) being friends with the object of his affections, Gink (Pimchanok Luevisadpaibul). Although it is painfully obvious that Palm loves her, both Palm and Gink somehow manage to wave off all his actions as gestures of friendship. It’s up to Palm to somehow step out of his self-inflicted Friend Zone and find a way to demonstrate his love for Gink… or remain in a state of limbo forever.
The problem with Friend Zone‘s simple premise is just that — it’s too simple. There’s just not enough plot for a two-hour long film. As a result, Friend Zone repeats the same set of plot beats over and over again. Gink gets into some ridiculous situation, Palm saves her, Gink is grateful, Palm remains lovelorn. Rinse and repeat. Either the movie is too afraid that you won’t understand the concept of being “friendzoned”, or it repeats it ad infinitum just to stretch the running time. And thus, you get a boring and predictable plot with a such a torpid pace that it’ll lull you to sleep.
Part of the reason is because Palm is the one who keeps “friendzoning” himself away from Gink. He’s given the chance to confess his true feelings to Gink multiple times, with Gink looking absolutely ready to reciprocate. Yet he makes no move and claims they are just friends. With a character who is so intent on sabotaging his chances of happiness, you’ll find it hard to empathise with Palm and his passivity.
Gink is also, in the words of Palm, “brainless”. She’s an irritating, foolish, selfish, narcissistic, abusive, clueless, domineering, and indecisive character who expects the world to revolve around her. You can’t stop your eyes from rolling every time she opens her mouth. It’s hard to see why Palm is so obsessed with her given her dearth of good qualities, so the logical assumption is that his attraction for her is carnal in nature. As crude as it may sound, this is reinforced in an incredibly strange scene in the middle of the film.
For the bulk of the film, Gink and Palm have their clothes on. From out of nowhere, a scene pops up which has Gink and Palm disrobing and getting into a bathtub together. Palm even states verbatim that he “has a hard on”. It’s meant to be the turning point, but the tone of the scene is so incongruent with the rest of the film that it almost feels like an afterthought. The worst part is that the scene has no payoff, meaning that all that setup was for naught.
Friend Zone also has Gink and Palm travelling to all sorts of picturesque, Instagrammable locations. These scene changes are all preceded by large titles that tell you exactly where they are heading (instead of having it come out organically in dialogue). It’s an odd thing to have in a romantic comedy, and feels more suited to a travelogue, a travel documentary, or a travel advertisement.
If a two-hour slog through mind-numbing plots and shrill characters is your thing, then Friend Zone is the romantic comedy for you. It could have been cut down to at least half of its current length without having lost anything important, since it really doesn’t bring anything new to the pool of romantic comedies out there. Perhaps if it had bothered to give a twist on old and familiar tropes, Friend Zone would have been able to gather some level of engagement from its audience.
Should you watch this at all? If you like romantic comedies.
Should you watch this at weekday movie ticket prices? If you like Thai films and romantic comedies.
Secret ending? No, but there are gag reels in the credits.
Running time: 118 minutes
Friend Zone is a Thai romantic comedy.
The film revolves around two childhood friends of the opposite sex. Their relationship has never evolved beyond that of friendship, despite the fact that one person clearly loves the other. However, circumstances force the relationship to take a step forward, but whether this bodes well for either character remains to be seen.
Friend Zone is directed and written by Chayanop Boonprakob, with additional writing credits for Pattaranad Bhiboonsawade and Thodsapon Thiptinnakorn. It stars Naphat Siangsomboon (Palm), Pimchanok Luevisadpaibul (Gink), and Jason Young (Ted).
Friend Zone opens in cinemas:
– 4 April, 2019 (Singapore)
Marcus Goh is a scriptwriter, having written for popular shows like “Lion Mums”, “Crimewatch”, “Code of Law”, “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.
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