Film

Chinese Hit Breakup Buddies Is a Tone-Deaf Comedy

by

Just by averting his eyes while muttering “Mr. Cock Boom,” Chinese comedian Huang Bo justifies his status as a record-breaking mega-star in Breakup Buddies, a tone-deaf buddy comedy that’s like 10 by way of Due Date. As Geng Hao, an embittered divorcee questing for rebound sex with help from boorish wingman Hao Yi (Xu Zheng), Huang (Lost in Thailand) makes a flimsy part engaging, even when he’s using that obnoxious dating-website screen-name to get laid. Geng’s story is only fitfully involving since his adventures in lady-killing are either crass or sappy. Geng at first tries and then decides not to bed a girl half his age, but only after Hao Yi baldly explains “the shadow effect,” a trite self-help philosophy that serves as the film’s thematic takeaway: “Now you’re in the shadow of life. But remember, the shadow is only part of your life, not all.” Still, Breakup Buddies is immeasurably improved whenever Huang’s body language speaks louder than his character’s dialogue. His nine-month-pregnant pauses and delightfully pissy facial contortions convey so much barely sublimated frustration, like when he vows to Hao Yi, “I…swear…I’ll get somebody in bed tonight.” Huang’s nuanced performance is also compelling enough to make you care about Geng when he drunkenly throws money in a one-night stand’s face and demands that she “Tell me you love me. Tell me you were wrong. Tell me you made a mistake.” Geng’s more selfish than sympathetic, but Huang makes him worth watching.