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    'I Not Stupid Too' disappointing sequel to biting social commentary

    Hong Kong, July 14 (AP): Singaporean comedian Jack Neo dazzled audiences four years ago with a biting and hilarious condemnation of the country's authoritarian ethos and overly competitive education system in ``I Not Stupid.''

    The follow-up released recently, ``I Not Stupid Too,'' is as boring and stale as the topdown culture he so craftily ridiculed in the first installment.

    ``I Not Stupid'' was an in-your-face, slam-dunk mocking of the traditional Asian test-driven, elitist education system, overbearing Asian parents, Singaporeans' over-obedience to government and racism - all at the same time.

    The sequel feels like a public service program written by Singapore's social welfare department.

    The film revolves around two Singaporean families _ one working class, the other upper class _ and the tragic consequences of miscommunication between parent and child.

    These are universal, almost cliched themes. Add to that the somber tone of the film and the overdone happy ending, Neo's comic talent is completely buried and instead the audiences are treated to a two-hour documentary-like program on parent-child relations.

    Neo's original film was strengthened by impeccable comic pacing and well-timed close-ups.

    That's all gone in the sequel. The social criticism is subdued and overwhelmed by an overly sentimental tone.

    Neo does highlight the harshness of Asian parents who single-mindedly demand academic excellence from their children. However, the overarching theme of the film is parent-child misunderstanding.

    By focusing on an issue that's as common to parents in other parts of the world as to those in Singapore, Neo loses the edge that made ``I Not Stupid'' more than just a thought-provoking examination of Asian family dynamics.


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