Review: Chilli Laugh Story

Written and directed by Coba Cheng, co-written by Matt Chow, work-from-home has led to a daily cage match with Coba’s family. When he inadvertently learns his mother’s homemade chili sauce is a hit with his co-workers, he convinces his family to turn the chili sauce into online business. Starring: Edan Cheuk-On Lui, Ronald Cheng, Gigi Leung, Sandra Kwan Yue Ng and Angela Yuen.

Different moods call for different films, sometimes it’s horror, action or thriller but sometimes you just want something silly, fun and a good time, Chilli Laugh Story is one of those films. However, that doesn’t mean that you should underestimate it, it has a lot more charm than you might expect. Kicking things off in classically OTT fashion it cleverly doesn’t hold onto this tone but evolves into a story of family and success, while holding onto that atmosphere of not taking itself too seriously and playing around. One of the easy factors to demonstrate that this works well is the fact that it comes in at just under two hours long, and it’s consistently entertaining throughout, which is not an easy thing to pull off with this type of film.

Another element that works in its favour is that despite setting itself during lockdown, it doesn’t overly focus on it. Using coronavirus in stories is a double-edged sword, it’s hugely relatable but at the same time, it’s still a little too fresh to hit harshly on the reminder but Chilli Laugh Story uses it well to set off its journey. The story may not be entirely original, there are some typical family drama and tensions but that’s not to say it’s not captivating, it holds your attention surprisingly well. Part of which is the building of its characters, they’re strong personalities who can manage to capture the silliness with a genuine edge. Its more melodramatic moments may not suit everyone’s sense of humour but it has plenty more to offer outside of that. It feels aware of where the line is for being too ridiculous and it may approach it but never crosses it.

That success is in no small part due to the performances by its lead actors, walking that line of silly, entertaining but heartfelt is pretty impressive. Edan Cheuk-On Lui’s Coba is extremely relatable, he simply wants to make something of himself and make his family happy in the process. Ronald Cheng and Gigi Leung present the quintessential married couple, they have their tiffs and wandering eyes but also have each other’s backs. Cheng’s Alan is intensely stubborn but not the sharpest, sometimes unaware of how good he has it while he’s searching for boosts to his ego. Leung’s Rita is simply looking for a little appreciation and a good home for their family, the strong matriarch. Together the three of them make an utterly convincing family, they’re sweet and fun to watch.

Chilli Laugh Story is a perfect choice if you’re looking for a light-hearted, sweet and funny film. Edan Cheuk-On Lui, Ronald Cheng and Gigi Leung make for an adorable trio with relatable family strife and irritations but you can see the strong connection beneath. It’s surprising how well it manages to hold your attention touching the two hour mark, but it progresses with a good pace and that genuine side helps balance out the silliness. Put simply, it’s a fun time and one that isn’t throwaway or forgettable, but one you’d want to return to.

Verdict: ✯✯✯✯ | 8/10

In UK cinemas from 15 July

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