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Go Lala Go!
Go Lala Go!

Xu Jinglei shows off her form in Go Lala Go!
Chinese:

杜拉拉升級記

Year: 2010  
  Director:

Xu Jinglei

  Producer:

Zhang Yibai

  Writer Xu Jinglei, Zhao Meng, Wang Yun
  Cast: Xu Jinglei, Stanley Huang, Karen Mok Man-Wai, Pace Wu (Ng Pui-Chi), Li Ai, Alice Wang, Peter Loehr, Erik Siao, Wu Jianxin
  The Skinny: Actress Xu Jinglei’s fourth directorial effort is an entertaining and polished romantic comedy, but lacks any real insight into the world it tries to explore. Those product placements are pretty annoying, too.
   
Review
by
Kevin Ma:
Zhang Ziyi staked her claim to the Chinese urban romantic comedy genre with Sophieís Revenge, a visually dazzling and sometimes self-serving romantic comedy on which Zhang served as star and producer. Now Xu Jinglei (The Warlords) plants her own flag on that mountain with Go Lala Go!, based on a novel by author/former IBM employee Li Ke. The original work follows an average woman who climbs the corporate ladder through hard work, and capitalizes on the emerging group of urban office workers all trying to make it in the rapidly developing Chinese economy. Given that concept, itís too bad that Xu turned the film into a romantic comedy instead.

Like Zhang on Sophieís Revenge, Xu wears multiple hats on Go Lala Go!, acting as star, co-writer, and director. However, the Beijing Film Academy graduate brings none of the talent she showed for true-to-life moments in her directorial debut My Father and I to this fourth directorial effort. Instead, Go Lala Go is simply a polished, commercial romance that never lets things like believable characters or convincing plot developments get in the way.

Xu plays titular character Du Lala, an everywoman who leaves a miserable office job with a touchy-feely boss to join the human resources department of multinational corporation DB. How she manages to get the job is never thoroughly explained, but we learn two things about her right away when the film starts: Lala really likes to walk by famous brand name shops (not-so-cleverly inserted product placements, including one for a drugstore chain, Watson's), and despite making a lower-than-average salary, she can afford some fabulous clothes.

Xu's stellar wardrobe exists because Xu hired Patricia Field, the fashion designer (or is it coordinator?) for the Sex and the City series, to provide Xu and the rest of her cast with unrealistically glamorous clothes - which tells you exactly what type of audience the film is aiming for. However, itís hard to believe that a lowly office assistant like Lala can afford the multiple outfits she flaunts in the film. But then how would Lala be able to attract the ever-successful sales manager David (Taiwanese pop star Stanley Huang) without those clothes, especially when his girlfriend Rose (a scene stealing Karen Mok) is the hotshot human resources manager? Donít underestimate Lalaís determination, though - through sheer hard work and absolute loyalty to the company, Lala slowly but surely advances up the ranks of the company and even gets her man.

Those last developments are where Go Lala Go! fails for Chinese fans of the original, who apparently treat the source material like a bible on how to climb the corporate ladder. Xu offers very few real observations into office politics with her story development. Instead, Lala impresses company royalty the way a middle school student might, and completes one project before sheís established as a successful office lady whose rise is never challenged. Xu could have inserted real insight into real situations, but she changes the story from its original themes and focuses on the romance between David and Lala. The problem with following the romance is that it rushes through her source material, jumping ahead months at a time to fit the story in while sacrificing the romance's poignancy as well as any insight into its office setting.

Xu also fails to overcome the biggest challenge of directing herself, giving a mediocre performance that doesnít leave much of an impression on the audience. As director, Xu keeps the film moving with a light pace and even shows some creativity (despite the product placements). However, she doesn't give her character the requisite presence to hold the film together. This is especially apparent when she shares scenes with the magnetic Karen Mok, who comfortably fits into the bilingual role of the conniving career woman like a pair of old shoes. Itís hard to watch the scenes between Xu and Mok without imagining how much better the Lala character would be if Mok had stepped into the role. Xu also lacks chemistry with leading man Huang -- though the problem doesnít lie with Xu, as Huang simply lacks the appeal for his supposedly attractive character.

Ultimately, Go Lala Go! provides plenty of Chinese and Thai landscapes to serve as eye candy, and it may breeze by in an entertaining manner. However, the film overstays its welcome even at just under 100 minutes by cramming in too much into too little time. Itís obvious that Xu put a lot of effort into the project, and one can see why it would benefit her to do so: with the novelís sequel already released, Go Lala Go! is a potential franchise that appeals to a demographic with exponentially increasing spending power. Not only would Xu become the central character for any future installments, the aspiring franchise would also need her as its director. After approving of the film's endless product placements (which helped the film earn two-thirds of its budget back before it even opened), it appears that Xu doesnít mind collaborating with the commercial machine. Is it too much to hope that Xu can make the real office politics movie that shouldíve been Go Lala Go! if a sequel does go ahead? I donít think so. (Kevin Ma, 2010)

   
Availability:

DVD (China)
Region 0 PAL
China Film Group
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Mandarin Language Track
Dolby Stereo 2.0
Simplified Chinese And English Subtitles
*Also Available on Blu-ray Disc

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