Release Date: September 8th, 2006 (Angelika Film Center) by Polychrome Pictures.
The Cast: Jacqueline Kim, Elaine Kao, Tzi Ma, Kathy Shao-Lin Lee, Freda Foh Shen, Rossif Sutherland, Mia Riverton, Jayce Bartok, Sebastian Stan, Stephen Rowe, Conrad Oakey.
Directed by Georgia Lee.
BASIC PREMISE: 60-year-old Ed Wong (Ma) leaves his suburban home to retire to monastery while his three daughters try to cope with their own problems.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Red Doors has lively characters and its plot does have conflict, but it suffers from a stilted, contrived script. Every member of the Wong family has his/her own conflicts. Ed, the depressed patriarch of his Chinese-American family, has attempted suicide over 30 times and feels sick of his life in suburbia. His oldest daughter, Samantha (Kim), meets an old lover (Sutherland) from high school a day before she’s about to get married to Mark (Bartok). Julie (Kao) comes out of the closet when she falls in love with Mia (Riverton) a beautiful movie star. Finally, Katie (Lee), flirts with the boy next door by playing silly and even dangerous pranks on him. Meanwhile, the matriarch (Shen) merely tries to stabilize her dysfunctional family. Boy does this family desperately need to go on a road-trip together, i.e. to a beauty pageant—anything to cure their dysfunction. The performances are mostly convincing, particularly Tzi Ma who knows how to balance comedy and drama. Writer/director Georgia Lee does a great job of characters purpose and making them likable despite their flaws. However, ultimately, they seem like they’re just there as a plot device. Many scenes feel like part of a contrived sit-com or a soap opera without true-to-life moments. Comedic attempts often fall flat because they seem too contrived, such as when the mother faints when she sees Julie kissing her lover or when the family dog gets dyed pink. Lee follows a by-the-numbers plot structure which could have been much more resonating and refreshing with an organic screenplay that doesn’t rush from point A to point B.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: Unfortunately, none.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: A contrived plot and stilted dialogue.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 5
IN A NUTSHELL: Decent performances and lively characters get dragged down by a contrived plot with stilted dialogue.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: VHS/DVD
The "R" Menu