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Money No Enough
Year: 1998
Jack Neo
Director: Tay Teck-Lock
  Producer: JP Tan, Hsiao Yu-Hua
  Writer: Jack Neo
  Cast: Jack Neo, Mark Lee, Henry Thia, John Cheng, Patricia Mok
  The Skinny: A local hit that focuses on the financial problems of three pals looking to get ahead in a crazy, money-obsessed culture. Although a bit amateurish and heavy-handed at times, Money No Enough works as an effective satire of certain aspects of Singaporean culture during the late 90s.
Review by Calvin McMillin:      The phrase "Keeping up with the Joneses" takes on a decidedly Singaporean twist in Tay Teck-Lock's feature length directorial debut, Money No Enough. This Singaporean-made local smash broke all box office records previously held in the country and, for a time, held the title as Singapore's all-time grossing Chinese-language film. But does its Singapore-centric plotline hold any interest for viewers outside the region? Possibly.
     Money No Enough revolves around the lives of three pals from varying walks of life, all of whom find themselves dealing with their own "dire" financial problems. First off, there's Chew Wah-Keong (Jack Neo), a married family man who finds himself passed over for a promotion and immediately quits in anger, only to find that he doesn't possess the necessary English skills to find a new job with a salary comparable to his old one. Then there's Ong (Mark Lee), a contractor who is up to his ears in debt with some tough-looking loan sharks and ends up turning to his pals for some financial support. Rounding out the trio is Hui (Henry Thia), a down-on-his-luck waiter who's convinced that getting a cell phone will win him the girl of his dreams. As with any good comedy, their paths intertwine, and the three of them hatch a plot to improve their financial situations…with decidedly mixed results.
     As a satire of a certain time period in Singapore's history, Money No Enough works remarkably well. The actors, who all come from a background in television comedy, do a credible job representing characters from Singapore's varying social strata. At times, the performances and script seem amateurish (particularly in the dramatic scenes) and the thematic message is a tad heavy-handed, but overall the film provides a certain measure of insight into Singaporean culture. Many unfamiliar with the island state will be intrigued by the film's multiple language track, as the film's dialogue is a mishmash of Hokkien, Mandarin, Cantonese, and Singlish (Singaporean English).
     Although the film is decidedly Singaporean in nature, the overall theme should translate to audiences overseas. Certainly, some may be turned off by the characters' selfish desire for material gain, but by and large, that's the point of the film: to critique that particular, apparently pervasive attitude towards life. Whatever its faults, Money No Enough does a fine job of skewering the greedy mentality of its characters, even if it doesn't exactly have them learn valuable life lessons by the end of the story. If nothing else, Money No Enough serves as a compelling time capsule of late-90s Singaporean culture and provides viewers with an early glimpse of Jack Neo, the writer/director would go on to helm such hit films as I Not Stupid and Homerun. (Calvin McMillin, 2005)
Availability: DVD (Singapore)
Region 3 NTSC
Alliance Entertainment Singapore
Pan and Scan Edition
Hokkien, Mandarin, and English Language Track
Embedded Chinese and English Subtitles
Music Video and Theatrical Trailer
  Copyright ©2002-2017 Ross Chen