Gorilla comedy hits a home run

Wild Pitch: Prepare to laugh and cry in the tear-jerker comedy Mr Go, which tells the story of the titular character, a gorilla which plays baseball, and its owner and friend Wei Wei (Xu Jiao). Look out for baseball stars Choo Shin Soo and Ryu Hyun Jin, who make cameo appearances in the film.

Mr Go (PG)

Comedy/127 minutes

Rating: 3.5/5

SINGAPORE - It is rare to find a movie which can make you feel a multitude of emotions, from ecstasy to melancholy and even outright anger.

Mr Go is one such gem. It will take you on an exhilarating ride from start to finish.

In fact, the movie emulates baseball, the game that the story revolves around.

As main character Wei Wei (played by Xu Jiao) says: "Baseball is a game where you start at home and return home."

Mr Go is about young circus ringmaster Wei Wei and her gorilla, Ling Ling.

Wei Wei's grandfather was a gambling addict. His poison? Baseball.

He would follow the games on television, which resulted in Wei Wei developing an interest in the game and training Ling Ling to play the sport. The gorilla eventually developed some pretty sweet batting skills.

When Wei Wei's grandfather died, he left behind a huge debt which she had to pay off.

Enter South Korean baseball agent Sung Choong Soo (played by Sung Dong Il) who convinces Wei Wei to let Ling Ling play in the professional South Korean baseball league.

Hilarity and high jinks ensue as Ling Ling, dubbed Mr Go, tries to adjust to life in a house and playing baseball in a stadium filled with screaming fans.

My main takeaway from this film was how dirty the sporting world can get and how easy it is to lose oneself when success beckons.

While Wei Wei basks in Ling Ling's fame, she fails to realise that the gorilla is suffering from a knee injury.

As with most animal films, Mr Go is a tear-jerker. I found myself in tears at different stages of the movie.

Mr Go has something for everyone. Sports fans would appreciate the spectacle of a primate hitting a home run.

Animal lovers would definitely enjoy watching the connection that the young circus ringmaster has with her childhood pet and friend.

Those who follow South Korean sporting news would recognise baseball stars Choo Shin Soo and Ryu Hyun Jin, who make cameo appearances at the beginning of the film.

This was probably an attempt to make the film a little more realistic, in order to make up for the computer-generated main character.

The CGI looked extremely realistic and it was easy to forget that Ling Ling is not an actual gorilla being made to play for the Doosan Bears.

Director Kim Yong Hwa knows how to manipulate the storyline and characters so that you are able to empathise with everyone. Yes, even the bad guys too.

Budgeted at US$22.5 million (S$28.4 million), the film was a collaboration between Chinese film production company and record label Huayi Brothers and South Korean distributor Showbox.

This would explain why the movie was set in China and South Korea, as well as the casting of China actress Xu Jiao.

While moviegoers can expect a happy ending, be warned that it is not without collateral damage. oonlisa@sph.com.sg

Mr Go opens in cinemas on Thursday.


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