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  • Tip: If you really want to see me cry by watching a movie, then it better be about family. Last night, I cried buckets just watching the Singaporean flick Homerun on TV.

    The movie is actually an adaptation of the Iranian original entitled Bacheha-Ye-aseman or Children of Heaven by film-maker Majid Majidi. However, this new version by director Jack Neo did not exactly base the whole story on the original and added flavors of his own. I have not seen the original, though, and therefore cannot make any kind of comment.

    Set in 1965, Homerun centers on Ah Kun (Shawn Lee), his sister Seow Fang (Megan Zheng), and their seeming obsession with finding a new pair of shoes for the girl. If they cannot achieve that specific goal, at least, find the old ones that Kun lost. The very significance of the goal becomes understandable from the start. Their family lives in poverty with the father taking all the odd jobs he can find and the mother heavy with a baby. Them being so poor, the siblings know that their family cannot anymore afford to buy yet a new pair of shoes.

    To solve the problem, Kun and Fang end up using the same worn-out pair that Kun owns. Fang wears them to school in the morning and gets into trouble with her teacher scolding her for wearing boys' shoes that are even too large for her. Kun wears them in the afternoon and gets into deeper trouble with the principal always catching him going to school late. What makes things doubly hard is they keep the problem as a secret to spare the parents from further worry. This only creates complications. In his desperation, Kun is forced to swallow his pride and submit to rich boy Ben Soon's (Joshua Ang...In reviews, the character is Ming Soon) demands and conditions only to acquire new shoes for his beloved sister.

    Homerun has a familiar, universal theme - poverty. However, the actual theme, if you concentrate on the movie alone, is family love as well as friendship. If you concentrate further and are familiar with Singapore's political history, you will further find underlying messages that Neo did not exactly try to hide. I am, of course, under no authority to comment on this, so I will leave the debate on those who have. Personally, I am more touched by the family love theme. This is what I will concentrate on.

    It was very commendable of Kun to be so loving and caring for his family, especially for his little sister. The things he did just to replace her shoes and make her smile again surely melted my heart. She was no ungrateful wench either. In her quiet way, Fang appreciated his efforts, never got mad at him, and actually cared for her big brother as well. Both were just victims of poverty, symbolized by the shoes they so wanted. Or by the lack of shoes, to be more specific. You'd have to be touched by the sacrifices the kids had to make, especially Kun when he joined a race and, in his belief, "lost". His loyal friends, at least, were always there to try and help as much as they could, which was also touching.

    This movie certainly makes it up my list of favorites. I highly recommend it as a family drama. It is a very well-made story, simple and direct, the best way to get your message across. You'd want your audience to focus on one or two character(s), not bombard them with others' sub-plots. Too much ingredients and flavor sometimes ruin the taste.

    The characters in Homerun were well-developed. There were no mysteries that needed to be solved, save from who got the old shoes. No high-tech presentations. After all, it was 1965. Certainly no hysterics. There were crying scenes, yes, but mostly, the situations and long faces would make you do all the crying yourself. If you were me, anyway. The kids were very good actors, particularly Zheng who became co-winner of the Best Newcomer category and gave the movie its first-ever Golden Horse award.

    The movie wasn't very sad all through-out, though. In fact, there were a lot of funny scenes, especially with Kun's friends providing the comic relief. There's the stereo-typical fat kid who's supposed to be considered ugly and called pig, but other than that, I have no complaints.

    For me, this movie - as a movie - deserves a NINE out of a ten rating. No questions asked.
  • i have incidentally watched this film from a television channel..and to my surprise i was really so so touched by this film. i was crying the whole time while watching the film. i love the simplicity of the story. it really depicts real life situations as well as emotions. i was so touched how the big brother cared so much for his sister..how the two kids struggled just because they can't replace the lost pair of shoes..whew!the most touching scene was when the two kids would exchange footwear every after class just to get to school with shoes on... a true tearjerker! the film relays many lessons and insights! it teaches about humility, passion, love, care and mostly, HOPE! Every scene is full of emotions. i was able to feel the message that was being sent to viewers like me. i also love the theme song as the film is coming to its climax! everything about the film just amazed me! i can't stop loving it! GREAT! GREAT! GREAT!
  • Wonderful performances by children, good family messages and some truly funny laugh-out-loud moments ("one, two, three, kick!").

    The Singapore vs. Malaysia water politics were completely missed by me, and it was only after my Singaporean friends explained it to me that I understood the controversy. Anyone not from the region will simply not even notice it.

    At the same time, the water politics give the movie an interesting aspect, and probably bring light to an issue that most people outside the region would never have heard of previously. So, regardless on your stance on the issue, it can't hurt to bring more attention to the issue.

    Definitely see this film with your kids!
  • Note to non-Singaporean readers:

    Homerun is an official remake of the Iranian film, "Children of Heaven". Melodramatic, nostalgic, and arguably, mildly entertaining, this flick is doing brisk business in Singapore right now. This following piece is not a standard film review, but rather a post-viewing commentary. Any question to the film itself would best be answered in its official website. So here goes.

    Unlike some Singaporean critics, who absolutely detested this Un-subtle flick, I was mildly entertained. IMHO, the above-average child performances in this film were its saving graces. Especially liked that small kid in the "Singaporean camp" who talked brash, talked big. He will go far...

    The female child lead was surprisingly good too, as this film's abundant "water supply". She kinda reminds me of a kid version of those Chinese weepy soap opera heroines, who can turn on their gushing tear ducts on cue. One word. Scary. She should consider pursuing an acting career in Taiwan.

    But seriously, I kinda admired the old-world rustic charm of this flick too. The kampongs (villages), the "old" schools, the large fields and the muddy tracks are all remnant features of a time long before I was born. (Making it all the more ironic that authenticity can only be achieved through location shoots in the lands of my country's neighbour, Malaysia).

    Speaking of Malaysia, this is one film that will send "cross-straits" temperatures rising. The film attempted to weave in satiric commentaries, mirroring the tension-filled relationship between Singapore and Malaysia over the years. But it's poorly executed, overtly espoused politics wound up being more offensive than allegorical.

    Despite my being a Singaporean, I won't blame Malaysia if they so decide to ban this flick. Since they've already banned such fiery flicks like Zoolander and Daredevils already, they may just as well do likewise for Homerun. At least this flick deserves to be banned for its unreasonably one-sided and almost laughable takes on Malaysia/ Singapore relations. Like I said earlier, I loved the child performances in this movie. It is the adults' fault (principally director Jack Neo) for forcing other alleged, unnecessary agenda on the flick.

    The way I look at it, Homerun's director Jack Neo, Singapore's most commercially successful director to date, may have been intoxicated by the positive critical responses to his previous film "I NOT STUPID" (another unsubtly veiled satire, which was warmly received in Hong Kong). As a result, he may have aimed too high with Homerun by inundating the flick with sledgehammer-like symbolism and painfully obvious current affairs laden in-jokes.

    Ironically, such efforts greatly diluted the innocence and quality of the original Children of Heaven film, thus bringing a bad distaste to many a discerning film lover in Singapore. This film sort of lost its "local credibility" and arguably marked a critical low for Jack (bringing his `artistic' ambition down a peg or two, that's for sure).

    Okay, so far, I have dispensed with the good and the bad. Thankfully there's nothing left to say that will make this piece any uglier. While acknowledging the less than positive critical reaction to this flick, I personally thought Homerun's allegorical elements were too amateurishly handled to be taken seriously. To me, it's just a standard Jack Neo flick, and nothing more. However insidious it's made out to be, I don't think its target audience will bother about its politics. They are merely looking for a good time. And arguably, it delivers in that area.

    My above take is written with a deeply entrenched Singaporean perspective. As pointed out by one fellow film lover in Singapore though, this film may possibly even be a break-out hit outside of Malaysia and Singapore because its allegorical elements will not be as detectably `in-your-face' as citizens of both affected countries. And the pedigree of the "Children of heaven" association will not hurt its chances either. I did say it's a mildly entertaining flick, didn't I.

    As at time of writing, Homerun has become a certifiably huge commercial hit in Singapore and its company (Raintree) seemed poised to mount a marketing campaign to launch this film regionally (internationally) soon. So look out for it.

    In closing, I have this to say about Mr. Jack Neo. Subtlety is an art, which he lacks immeasurably. Hopefully, he will take stock of the myriad spectrum of critical responses generated by this flick and learn to strike a better artistic/ commercial balance in his future projects. As it is, I hold the same view for all local (Singaporean) filmmakers; hopefully, their current product is not their best, not their last
  • Sorry, the title I wrote is just a joke, now let's cut to the chase.

    This Singapore film, again by Jack Neo, very touched, about a boy and a girl called Chew Seow Fang and Chew Kiat Kun, both poor and optimistic, when Chew Kiat Kun accidentally lost his sister's shoes, he knew he had to do something, but, to be honest, Chew Seow Fang's feet looked quite good, I know it's not right, but I had to say that.

    I guess I saw a very touched scene that I came to my tears, Chew Kiat Kun tried to convince his parents and headmaster to let him join the race to win the shoe prize, and he did his best and won it, I can help myself no more, and I was deeply touched.

    Remarkable film, competed to the I Not Stupid Too (2006). I ranted 10/10.
  • Having Homerun shown on television tonight was an opportunity to compare the masterpiece of the original Children of Heaven, and the local remake done by Jack Neo. To his credit, taking on such a film and remaking for the local audience is a feat of courage, and given that the young rookie Megan Zheng had actually won a Golden Horse award for her performance, I thought it would something at least. Sad to say, the movie is really quite devoid of a soul and lacks the innocent charm of the original. If you really want to watch this, then make sure you haven't seen Children of Heaven, or you'll be disappointed.

    First of all, it's an adaptation, so key scenes are replicated in Homerun. While not shot-for- shot, it still has elements that are instantly recognizable, and in attempts to deviate slightly from the original, some scenes were played out in verbatim, or found a needless desire to be explained in every minute detail. Jack Neo did try to infuse some environmental changes with Homerun, and had the setting and premise in 1965 Singapore, where we still had villages, and the production values allowed a Singapore of yesteryear to be recreated. However, in trying to carve out something still unique for Homerun, he put in what he knows best - I Not Stupid. While acting talent is scarce here, putting familiar faces into the movie, and again with the school setting, draws too much similarities and can't shake off the ghost of the I Not Stupid series.

    What created a slight ruckus at the time, was the incorporating of the spat between Singapore and our neighbour, in not-too-subtle scenes that on one hand tried to draw some laughter, and on the other trying to add some much needed depth to a bland copy of Majid Majidi's classic. In doing so, what was essentially achieved was to divert attention from the main story, and introduced some scenes of football, petty school spats (you just got to love hating those small sized boys with big mouths) and the issue on water, all of which only achieved one undesired objective, and that's to extend the runtime. Homerun was anything but a homerun in the making, and could have actually cut down such unwanted scenes to tighten the pace.

    While Megan Zheng might have won the Golden Horse award, she's no Bahare Seddiqi. The former's expression relied on plenty of tears, and a perpetual scowl she puts on her face. While Seddiqi endears, Zheng can't do any of that. Her screen sibling Ah Kun, played by Shawn Lee, is no better than Amir Farrokh Hashemian too. Ah Kun turned out to be lacking the street smarts, and was quite dependent on his friends to pull him out of his predicaments. So if you're looking at Homerun on the basis of the leads alone, they can't hold a candle to the original casted siblings.

    Honestly, Homerun is a decent production, but when compared to the original, it pales by plenty of miles. Understandably Jack is no Majid, but one thing that really irked me, is how Jack consistently shovels sympathy down your throat by replaying scene after scene of reminders of how pitiful the children are, now that they have to share a shoe, and reminders of how the shoe's disintegrating, and included a scene involving broken glass bottles, which is ridiculous and only there to milk some more sympathy points (which backfired of course). Come on, we're not stupid, and too much of something done in such an obvious manner, will only cause the rolling of eyes.

    Children of Heaven, this is definitely not. Stick to the original, and nothing less.
  • I have watched this movie a few times before in Chinese class. I never really got to truly appreciate and understand this movie until now.

    "Homerun" is about two poor siblings who have to share shoes after the brother accidentally loses his sisters' pair of shoes. The plot is simple, but amazingly, the movie managed to get deep and emotional. It's truly a wonder.

    This is really an inspiring film. At first, I thought the plot was too over the top and too unrealistic, but after watching the whole film, I realized: How would I know? Myself, like Beng Soon, was born into a fortunate family and (as he put it:) I don't understand what it's like to live without shoes. I have never been in a situation like that, so I don't have any right to decide whether something like this is unrealistic or whatnot.

    I love family films and this one, although foreign, is no exception. I really liked the bond that the siblings shared. Even if things would not go the way they wanted it to, they never gave up and always found ways to work through them together. That was inspiring.

    The one thing I did not like in this film was the humor that seemed to be trying too hard. There were so many scenes in the movie that could have just been cut and made the film better. The so-called funny scenes with Kun's classmates were unnecessary. The bad humor played a big part in my low score for this movie. Aside from that, I think that the cast could have been improved. The movie would do well without some of the students. The lead actor seemed to be lacking in something. However, the actress who played the sister and the actor who played the rival, did terrific jobs.

    Viewed on: June 17, 2011
  • Right off the bat, let me say the kids were great. Jack Neo has a way of tugging at the heart strings by getting us to feel for the plight of the children in his movies. And the teacher, played by Marcus, is brilliant! He was easily the best actor in the entire film. But apart from that, it was a TV movie at best. Except for the kids and Marcus, every other character was played so over the top, it made the recent Brothers 4 actually seem good. And it was hard to miss the massive Homerun ads on TV, in cinemas, in magazines. It was a bad move to constantly drill it into us that this was "a remake of the award winning Iranian film, Children of Heaven". Comparisons will obviously be made, and Homerun is far inferior to the magnificent original.