Dummy Mommy Without a Baby

Reviewed by YTSL

Before I get to (more) properly reviewing this 2001 comedy, there are two things I feel a need to let off some steam about.  An arguably nitpicky complaint concerns the latter tendency on the part of Chinese-to-English translators of film titles and dialogue to opt for American rather than British English words (Hence this offering’s English language title failing to having two words that really rhymed as well as there having been those hex errors in “Shaolin Soccer” that arose from a false supposition that “soccer” can be used in all of the contexts as that of “football”).  The far more serious grievance that I have pertains to the truly unnecessary casual racism -- like that embodied in the throwaway remark in this effort of “She is afraid of black” (although those who are willing to thank goodness for small mercies will note that “at least” the “n” word was not used in this instance) -- that still is prone to crop up and threaten to ruin my Hong Kong movie viewing experience.

For better or worse, the above mentioned issues actually irked me much more after I spent time ruminating about them than over the course of my viewing the memorably as well as descriptively titled DUMMY MOMMY WITHOUT A BABY.  Part of the reason for this is that they really didn’t have all that much to do with the movie itself (whose plot centers on a woman who fakes being pregnant after learning of a new government ruling that forbade employers from sacking their expecting employees for ten months).  Another is that this (re)viewer found herself devoting more thought than she had expected to on trying to decide whether this film with the novel premise -- that threatened early on to turn out to be not much more than a one joke work -- could be generally considered funny; what with the Brilliant Idea Group production that unexpectedly outgrossed Jet Li’s “The One” at the HKSAR box office in the first week that they were released in the former British Crown Colony having certain sections that really did cause me to laugh out loud but there being long stretches in between these during which I don’t think that I cracked even a single, small smile.

Miriam Yeung and Edison Chen
To some extent, it made sense that DUMMY MOMMY WITHOUT A BABY couldn’t be laughter-inducing right from the get go on account of certain events needing to occur to cause the effort’s lead character (L.K. Fong -- who actually isn’t the world’s worst worker -- is played by Miriam Yeung) to be moved to come up with the desperate plan that she did to ensure that her budding career in advertising would not be brought to a sudden halt.  Also, while it is true that many of the film’s plot developments -- notably that which involved L.K. being unable to hide the truth about her “pregnancy” forever -- were too predictable in nature, some others -- including that which pertains to the nature of her relationship with her boss (Edison Chen is surprisingly charming as the younger Mr. Wu) -- are less so.  Indeed, there were certain ones -- such as those which had L.K. feeling a need to take lessons re how to act pregnant and interview other women about what pregnancy honestly felt like along with that which brought a real pregnant female character into the picture (and had her in the strong financial position that she was) -- that seem downright inspired.
Niki Chow and Hui Siu Hung
Nonetheless, I don’t think that -- if the question were put to them -- scriptwriters Joe Ma (who also co-directed this movie with Mak Kai Gwong and co-produced it with Ivy Kong), Chang Wing Sun and Taures Chow would deny that much of DUMMY MOMMY WITHOUT A BABY is mere padding for an otherwise thin story.  And should anyone who has already viewed this work wonder, I am most definitely not only referring to the cameo appearances made by the likes of Chor Yuen (as a sad tea shop owner who looks to have more pregnant employees than he has customers), Cheung Tat Ming (as an overly theoretical acting instructor) and Moses Chan (as a big bellied lawyer).  Rather, it also generally felt rather unnecessary for L.K. to have all that many (platonic male) friends (a couple of whom were played by Wyman Wong and Samuel Leung) -- other than to show that so much (deceit) seems to be achievable if you have chums who are willing to lie for you -- as well as a bitchy superior/rival who, to add insult to injury, proved to be pretty toothless (through no fault of the actress who played her, Pauline Yam).
Niki, Mirian and Pauline Yam in the background
Perhaps the brains behind this movie thought that, what with DUMMY MOMMY WITHOUT A BABY being the first work in which the Cantopop singer-actress -- whose career may well be headed in the same direction as that of Sammi Cheng’s -- had a starring role, Miriam Yeung could not be expected to carry an entire film (and thus had to be surrounded by more experienced actors as well as fellow fresh faced personalities).  Whatever the reason for it being so, I am glad that Hui Siu Hung had a part to play in this effort (as Edison Chen’s character’s boxing enthusiast father); this not least since the running gag that involved the elder Mr. Wu believing that L.K.’s good friend, Dina (who was played by Niki Chow) was his son’s single pregnant employee was one which did serve up some of this offering’s more humorous moments.

My rating for the film:  5.5

Reviewed by Brian

I rather enjoyed this rambunctious if far from cutting edge family comedy. It has the feel more of a TV sitcom than a theatrical film with Miriam Yeung and Niki Chow taking on roles that would have felt at home on a I Love Lucy episode.  Interesting that YTSL compared Miriam to Sammi Cheng because her comic delivery and speaking voice reminded me constantly of Sammi’s. She doesn’t have quite the charisma or the looks of Sammi – and perhaps for that reason romance doesn’t play much of a role here – but I thought she brought a fun “average” working woman persona to the film. Not at all glamorous or marriage minded  - she just wants to keep her job and things start getting out of control in a warped logical kind of way.

Cheung Tat-ming, Miriam, Wyman Wong and Chor Yuen
Another aspect of the film that appealed to me was the staunch and loyal friendship between Miriam and Niki – always protecting the others back in the dirty world of office politics.  This must be the third or fourth film recently that Niki has popped in on and I have to admit to finding her quite attractive and a welcome presence. Hopefully she can continue to get larger roles as time goes by.

My rating for this film: 6.5