Hong Kong popstars aren't really known for being sexy. Whereas
the singer-actors of years past (Anita Mui and Leslie Cheung,
to name two) have not shied away from sexy or even daring
performances, the current crop are entirely too clean-cut
and chaste. The sexiest you'll ever see of most HK popstars
are the occasional leg-baring (or chest-baring for males)
album covers, and in movies you're lucky if they ever even
kiss. While likely a stipulation of many management contracts,
it doesn't make movie-watching a very titillating experience.
Good Times, Bed Times thankfully arrives as a semi-antidote
to that problem. While not a completely successful film,
at the very least it allows its performers to act as if
they would actually like to have sex.
Sammi Cheng stars as Carrie,
a reporter for a Hong Kong tabloid, who has some strange
fetish with her bed that makes it necessary for her to get
a good night's sleep. She's so hooked on her bed that she
has to drag it elsewhere on the very evening she breaks
up with her ladykiller boyfriend Raymond (Lau Ching-Wan),
who she catches with one of his many other women. Luckily,
Carrie gets a chance to bounce back romantically when she's
assigned to a story on Hong Kong supercop Paul Ko (Louis
Koo). Ko is the handsome, dashing poster child for Hong
Kong's police force, but he also harbors a secret: impotency.
Apparently, he lost the drive for action when he was nearly
shot in the crotch during a routine bust (which is rendered
in flashback complete with unnecessary John Woo/Matrix
influences). Carrie's boss got wind of Paul's condition
through keen investigative reporting (he overhears this
while getting his hair done), and gives Carrie the plum
Which turns out to be a relatively
easy task, since Paul is immediately smitten with Carrie,
and vice-versa. Thanks to a well-placed can of bug spray,
she also believes Paul isn't impotent, which suits him just
fine. He believes that if he finds someone he loves (i.e.
Carrie), he'll be cured of his inability to perform. Until
then, however, his stage fright is fodder for many jokes,
some good and some not-so-good. Paul's quest for a herbal
remedy produces a few gags, and Chim Sui-Man (who played
the screwy Dr. Kim in Mighty Baby) shows up as a
quack sexual therapist who attends to Paul's member in one
of the more outlandish metaphorical sequences. If seeing
Chim Sui-Man play with a bird standing-in for Louis Koo's
instrument sounds like a total gas, then this is your movie.
Still, the supposed laffers in
here aren't as hilarious as writer Chan Hing-Kai (who also
co-directed with his La Brassiere and Mighty Baby
cohort, Patrick Leung) would have us believe. Like in Mighty
Baby, the sight gags and occasional existential detours
here seem disjointed and somewhat ill-fitting. Better laughs
are received from the fine supporting turns (particularly
Sandra Ng and Tony Leung Ka-Fai as an adulterous couple),
and the lampooning of Louis Koo's masculinity (he gets sexually
harrassed by most females, and is socially pretty meek).
Koo turns in one of his patented self-effacing turns, and
Sammi Chengwhile not doing anything ostensibly newis
her usual beautiful, sometimes-whiny, but mostly-charming
self. The chemistry and sexual tension between the two actualy
seems to work, and the courtship of the two leading stars
creates a few moments of enjoyable fluffy romance.
But the question does come
up: where is all this going? While Carrie and Paul struggle
with the spectre of Paul's impotency, ex-beau Raymond encounters
his own sexual crisis. An avowed player, he's advised by
colleague Lam Suet to stop fooling around, lest he hurt
his chances at promotion (Raymond is currently a lower-level
judge in HK's court system). He complies, but as soon as
that happens, he meets Tabby (Charlene Choi), who is essentially
every aging male's dream nymphet temptress. Tabby may only
be eighteen, but she's outgoing and an over-the-top tease.
Within minutes of meeting Raymond (He tries her sexual harrassment
case, where she demonstrates said harrassment on an inflatable
doll.), she's already hopping into his car and taking him
around town. The two end up at a commercial audition (Why?
Who the hell knows?), and before long, Tabby is doing her
best to seduce Raymond with her disturbingly juvenile wiles.
She gets naked a total of two times in front of him (Charlene
Choi stalkers deal with it; she shows nothing.), and makes
light of their obvious age difference. Raymond stands firm,
but Tabby slowly gains ground. And again, where the heck
is this all going?
Well, it's headed here: both
Raymond and Carrie must come to terms with what they want,
sex or love, and whether the two can co-exist. In Carrie's
case, she falls in love with Paul's over-eager good guy
ways, and must deal with the fact that he won't be getting
any tent-pole action anytime soon. And Raymond has to deal
with whether or not he should have sex with Tabbyor
is his dilemma whether or not to commit to Tabby? While
such a notion is totally underdeveloped and seems solely
to exist because the script demands, the crux of their whole
thing is the standard romantic comedy question: will they
get together? The answer to that is not much of a surprise
(this isn't a tragedy), but the hows and whys are a little
dicey. Not only is the development of such events somewhat
in question (Charlene Choi attempting to seduce him? Where
exactly is his problem?), but the minor details of the film
are more filler than anything else. In addition to the two
romantic subplots, we get office chicanery, tabloid foolishness,
and the return of the criminal who essentially emasculated
Paul. If they threw in the kitchen sink, it would only make
this the most complete film ever.
Factoring in all the extra
details and supposed personal crises, Good Times, Bed
Times ultimately seems messy and entirely without consequence.
Chan Hing-Kai brings more of his questionable existentialism
to the big screen, and the results are as unconvincing as
anything he's done previously. The solution to Raymond's
problems seems too easy, the detail of Carrie's bed fetish
isn't entirely explained, and Paul's solution to his manhood
issues is just a tacked-on contrivance. Plus, the occasional
voiceover seems to indicate that fulfilling a man's sexual
ability is the key to marital bliss and untold eternal happiness.
Well, perhaps that's stretching it a bit, but when the film
seems to climax three or four times (no pun intended), you
have to wonder what the point of all this is. As coherent
storytelling goes, Good Times, Bed Times pretty much
can't get it up.
But, the film does compensate
in a satisfying enough manner. The actors are funny and
exceptionally easy on the eyes, and the frank depiction
of their sexual appetites makes for some fun against-type
moments. Paul Ko spends his time pining for Carrie in an
amusingly chaste way, while Carrie gets increasingly horny
without any true satisfaction on the horizon. Koo's ability
to laugh at himself is a welcome one, and though Sammi Cheng
doesn't really do anything new here, it's refreshing to
see her play a female who actually possesses human lust.
At one moment, Carrie and Raymond chance into one another
while snacking on turtle jelly, which is supposed "to
reduce heat" in their oversexed, unsatisfied bodies.
Before long they're slurping away at their jelly and pawing
themselves like extras in Tom Jones, which is both
surprising and wickedly funnyespecially for those
familiar with the chaste ways HK popstars are represented.
The same goes for Charlene Choi, though her seemingly innocent
yet disturbingly overt sexuality seems a tad out of place.
But it's all good, in a guilty sort of way. While not a
totally coherent work, Good Times, Bed Times gets
credit for giving its stars the chance to act like normal
human beings who actually desire sex. And as a result, they
manage to actually appear sexy, whichgiven the popstar-ruled
state of HK movies at the momentis a welcome rarity.