Love on a Diet (2001) / Comedy-Romance
MPAA Rated: Not rated
Running Time: 94 min.
Cast: Andy Lau, Sammi Cheng, Rikiya Kurokawa, Asuka Higuchi, Suet Lam
Director: Johnnie To, Wai Ka-Fai
Screenplay: Yau Nai-Hoi, Wai Ka-Fai
Review published December 21, 2001
After having struck gold with their wildly successful Hong Kong release, Needing You, director Johnnie To (Help!, The Mission) and screenwriter Wai Ka-Fai (Fulltime Killer, My Left Eye Sees Ghosts) attempt to repeat their magic with Love on a Diet. To do this, they bring together the two leads, Andy Lau (Century of the Dragon, Running Out of Time) and Sammi Cheng (Infernal Affairs, Infernal Affairs 3), who have exhibited good screen chemistry already. Itís also another sweet romantic comedy, so it would seem a canít miss proposition, right? WellÖitís a little hard to display chemistry while in a fat suit for most of the film.
Sammi Cheng plays Mini, a 300lb. Hong Kong woman living in Japan and obsessed with a Japanese musician and national heartthrob, Kurokawa (Kurokawa, The Goddess of 1967). It seems that ten years ago Mini and Kurokawa were an item, but he left Japan to seek fame and fortune in the United States, leaving Mini behind although they are still very much in love. They had made a pact to meet at a certain spot 10 years later, but Mini feels it wonít happen after learning he has gotten engaged to another woman. In her despair, Mini goes on an eating binge and gains 200 lbs. Mini wants to end it all, but is as unsuccessful in suicide as she is in romance, and soon there is only Fatso (Andy Lau) willing to take care of her as part of a deal to sell some steak knives. Fatso canít get rid of Mini no matter how hard he tries, but after learning Kurokawa still has feelings for Mini and is going to make good on his pact to meet, Mini is determined to shed the weight with Fatsoís help. However, she only has six months to do it.
While not up to the standards of The Nutty Professor in terms of prosthetics, the make-up and additional gear that the stars wear to give the appearance of heft is a little awkward on first view, but soon you forget about it and take the characters for what they are supposed to be. Both Lau and Cheng give good performances going way over the top with their funny caricature portrayals and also exhibit some sympathy for the characters that is difficult since they are under so much padding. While the director and writer do a good job for the most part, the story itself just doesnít provide enough interest to be truly entertaining. From the get-go, itís very easy to figure out the ending, so the best we can hope for is a fun ride along the predictable path. However, itís too mild in its tale and not witty enough in its humor to be grand-scale entertainment, so unless youíre a die-hard fan of the stars, Love on a Diet proves to be rather anemic fare.
©2001 Vince Leo