Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Philips and the Monkey Pen (2013)

Directors: Shanil Muhammed, Rojin Philip, Rojin Thomas
Writers:    Shanil Muhammed, Rojin Thomas
Cast:        Sanoop Santhosh, Jayasurya, Ramya Nambeeshan, Vijay Babu
Language: Malayalam

Ryan Philips is a smart young boy in fifth standard who has a big problem when it comes to studying mathematics. As he struggles to escape from doing his maths homework, he resorts to mischievous acts, little realizing the trouble he is making. The title of the film comes from a magical 'Monkey Pen' that he gets which helps him in doing his homework and turn around the opinion about him in his school.

The film begins with a title card which says that 'one should put themselves in the shoes of a young kid' and that seems to be a warning to the audience that it is a film meant for kids only. My problem with the film is that it is not quite a film meant purely for children or adults. It kind of falls between the two and in that sense it is neither for kids nor for adults. I am not in a position to judge whether kids will like this film but as a grown up, I wouldn't recommend it for them because of the various adulty things in the film like a sharpened pencil getting shoved in the arse of a kid as a revenge tactic. It would have been alright if they just cut away immediately but they had to just go back and show blood dripping out of it...WTF!!!... I know that our film certification process is so fucked up that kids see plenty of fucked up things in films that are certified as universally view-able, but it is just mind boggling to see such scenes in a film that is supposedly meant for kids. Of course the makers can justify it by saying that they were sending across a message that: "Kids, don't shove pencil up the arse of other kids", but I don't buy that. Then there are silly things like romantic interest for a 10 year old and the same girl dying in an accident. Give me a fucking break!!! You want to include all the melodramatic bullshit of mainstream India cinema in a kids film as well? FFS!!! 

I decided to watch the film because scenes from this film are used to generate memes in usual places on internet (ICU, Troll Malayalam etc). Most of the kids in it are very good, which is a rare thing these days, but the main kid's performance is a bit uneven. He is annoying in many places but rather good sometimes. There is a tendency to make adults also perform like kids in Children's films these days and Ramya Nambeeshan's mother character is an example for that. 'Manu Uncle' is my favorite film from the children's category in Malayalam cinema and it is one that is equally enjoyable for adults. It works with a very Enid Blytonesque 'Famous Five' premise and the kids in it are not too saccharine and adults behave quite normally except for Suresh Gopi's legendary character 'Minnal Prathapan', who is a bit caricatured. It is better to watch that film again than waste your time on a piece of shit film like this one.

Overall the film is a rather terrible watch. There are several jumps in timelines when it comes to the story telling aspect of it which gives it a false sense of sophistication. I knew I was in for a bad time as soon as I saw the old guy from flashback scene with the British behave like a one year old, only to serve as a plot device. Then there is the Maths teacher role played by Vijay Babu who swings wildly in terms of his behavior without much justification for it. Only saving grace for this film is the sporadic laughs that it generates in some places but they are not nearly enough to save it. At around 140 minutes it is just too long and I thought of turning it off much before its ending. It was a commercial and critical success when it got released and ran for more than 100 days.  

Rating: 1.5/5