- 2h 7min
Mrs. Dai, a 70-year old grandmother, suddenly finds that she has been transformed into her 20-year old self. Her old fashioned sense of style and manners cause some trouble, but falling in l... Read allMrs. Dai, a 70-year old grandmother, suddenly finds that she has been transformed into her 20-year old self. Her old fashioned sense of style and manners cause some trouble, but falling in love could be the biggest problem of them all.Mrs. Dai, a 70-year old grandmother, suddenly finds that she has been transformed into her 20-year old self. Her old fashioned sense of style and manners cause some trouble, but falling in love could be the biggest problem of them all.
The story centers around a 70-year-old Vietnamese grandmother who has trouble getting along with just about everyone. She lives with her son and his wife and children, but granny is critical of her daughter-in-law's cooking and parenting, while granny's son resents the strife that his mother brings into his household. Granny has a boyfriend, a widower whose spoiled adult daughter fears that granny is going to come between her and her father. Granny has also aroused jealousy in another woman who wants granny's boyfriend for herself. When granny bumps into a former co-worker, we learn that granny has caused problems in the past for people outside her family too. This is a grandmother who means well, but is in such a state of mind that, when she comes across a photo studio, she goes inside to get her funeral portrait made. The photographer says he'll make her look 50 years younger – and he does! Granny comes out of the studio looking like her 20-year-old self. When she gets over the initial shock of whatever has happened to her, she decides to enjoy it, as she says, whether it's real or it's a dream. She buys some new clothes and decides to use her newly beautiful, healthy body to live out the unfulfilled dreams of her youth. She becomes a singer in a band and attracts the attention of a record company producer who wants to work with her and get to know her better. Granny rents a room in her boyfriend's house, befriends her grandson as a peer and poses as his girlfriend when she meets his family. Of course, no one recognizes her, so as she hears talk of this "missing" grandmother, she learns how people really feel about her – good and bad – and it affects her in humorous and serious ways.
"Sweet 20" will remind Movie Fans of any number of similar films like the Tom Hanks comedy "Big" (1988) or Zac Efron's "17 Again" (2009), but this film is different in a few important ways. For example, you could compare "Sweet 20" with some aspects of "Back to the Future" – IF you switched the mother-son relationship to a grandmother-grandson relationship. Also, the majority of these age-changing comedies feature a male protagonist, so making the main character a female opens up different story-telling possibilities. Most significantly, however, it's interesting as an American to observe Vietnamese comic sensibilities and gain some insight into modern Vietnamese culture by the way they tell a story.
"Sweet 20" is a sweet and heartfelt film which is both helped and hurt by its Vietnamese origins. The actress who plays the younger version of granny is adorable and shows a range of emotions, while the actress who plays the 70-year-old grandmother creates a sympathetic character, in spite of her faults. The script is good, but the final product suffers from pervasive overacting and an odd use of cartoonish sound effects apparently intended to boost the comedy at certain moments. Some aspects of this production may simply reflect Vietnamese filmmaking culture in the way that movies from India always seem to feature singing and dancing and Chinese cinematic exports always seem to include martial arts.
American comic sensibilities are such that the Vietnamese version may not translate well, especially with the large amount of yelling, arguing and personal nastiness (as compared with most American comedies) which is often loud and/or shrill and is all in a language to which most American ears are unaccustomed. On the other hand, keeping an open mind will enhance the enjoyment of "Sweet 20" for Movie Fans who may be interested to see how a country as different and relatively unfamiliar as modern Vietnam portrays life – comically and otherwise. Regardless of cultural differences and comedic tastes, this film is fun, touching and life-affirming enough to deserve a mild recommendation. "B-"
- Mar 28, 2016