Movie Review: 'Pop Aye' Is An Endearing Bromance Between A Man And An Elephant

The star of this dramedy is an elephant.

Pop Aye (M18)

Starring Thaneth Warkulnukroh, Penpak Sirikul, Bong  

Directed by Kirsten Tan

Thana (Thaneth Warkulnukroh) is an architect suffering from a mid-life crisis; his job is in a rut and his wife hates his guts. 

Yes, it sucks to be Thana. 

One day, as fate would have it, he encounters Popeye (Bong), a circus elephant he once knew from his childhood, on the streets of Bangkok.  He buys the pachyderm on the spur of the moment and the two embark on a road trip to Thana’s hometown in Loei.

Along the way, the duo encounter assorted kooks, including a vagrant who has a vision of his own death and a downtrodden transvestite. Their interactions with these accidental companions are intercut with flashbacks explaining Thana’s history with Popeye. 

An assured debut by Singaporean director Kirsten Tan — with Ilo Ilo helmer Anthony Chen as executive producer — Pop Aye is not only an endearing inter-species buddy dramedy, but also a bittersweet meditation on the passage of time and the permanence of memory. 

If you’re easily worn out by the flash and racket of Hollywood’s latest noise machines (like Fast & Furious 8, also opening this week), then Pop Aye may offer some respite. In Thai with English subtitles. (3.5 stars)

Photo: Golden Village Pictures

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