Gratitude (and Comedy) Can Go a Long Way

Written by Jayce Ching       &        Edited by Dave Ong, Ervin Llobrera, Mark Yu

Despite the synopsis being a divorce throwing the family into turmoil, What a Wonderful Family! is a light-hearted family movie filled with comedic dialogues and characters. As a remake of the hit Japanese film, the 2017 movie must aim to bring the compelling and fun experience and meaningful message of the original and mold it to engage a Chinese audience. The question is: Did the film succeeded in doing so?

What a Wonderful Family! is about a family thrown into chaos after the grandmother in the family asked her husband for divorce on her birthday. Their three children and their respective spouses engage in hijinks and ridiculous ploys to solve the marital problem and prevent their parents from proceeding with the divorce.

The movie started off with a day in the life of the grandfather, wherein his rude mannerisms and ignorance are highlighted. He comes home after playing tennis and drinking with friends to his wife writing. Like clockwork, grandfather takes off his pants and sits down with grandmother taking the pants off the floor to fold it and brings a tub of water for grandfather to soak his feet in, all in silence. It’s striking how the silence wasn’t of comfortable ease, rather it felt like static. Grandfather then notices grandmother writing again and discourages her from being a novelist, then asks why a new bouquet of flowers were in their room, which grandmother answers were a birthday gift from a friend in writing class. A bit startled yet immediately dismissing himself, grandfather says he forgot it was her birthday. She then pulls out the divorce papers and implores him to think about it, leaving her husband in stunned silence. This entire day was very impressionable as it set the prompt for the movie’s plot well. The whole scene showcases how and where grandfather would take to reflecting upon himself with his lack of affection and gratitude for the rest of the movie.

However, following that, the comedy was a bit too jarring as the somber mood from grandmother introducing the divorce paper to grandfather lingers noticeably through the next day, only to suddenly have a very ridiculous fight between their only daughter and her spouse, wherein the spouse, the classic comic ignorant idiot in the family, make hilarious faces and jokes.

Soon after, though, the jokes keep on coming and the viewer would easily get used to the comedy sprinkled generously around family issues. The film graciously splatters a variety of wacky hilarity brought to brilliant light by a set of very bright and colorful characters who are all silly in their own individual manner, each to add to the fun atmosphere of the film. All of which builds up to expressing a very relevant and provoking message to families and individuals alike: “Without gratitude, there is no love.”

Admittedly, the character development of grandfather amidst all the chaos could have been conveyed and articulated much more than it had been. Moreover, at times, the film was focusing more on the comedy than the actual progression of the plot; thus, the conclusion of the film could feel quite sudden.

Nevertheless, the film succeeded in making a thought-provoking point in how people must treat others, even those closest to them, through the use of comedy and an uplifting mood for an easy-going yet immersive atmosphere. What a Wonderful Family! is a wonderfully entertaining and hilarious experience with a very meaningful message to take home – a good movie to watch with the family during movie night for everyone to enjoy and bond over.

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