Dick Lee Biopic 'Wonder Boy' Is Anything But Wonderful
Is a movie the best way to tell Dick Lee's life story?
Wonder Boy (TBA)
Starring Benjamin Kheng, Julie Tan, Zachary Ibrahim
Directed by Dick Lee & Daniel Yam
Wonder Boy, the biopic of homegrown singer-songwriter Dick Lee, is more woeful than wonderful, more rocky than rocking, and it’ll make you cry for all the wrong reasons. Basically, it’s Lee’s life story as a teenager in the 1970s given the trite Lifetime Movie of the Week treatment, which is surprising considering Lee is a co-director and you’d think he’ll give the material the nuance and insight it deserves.
Lee tries to pack a lot in but the movie is still sketchy and superficial. Even odder: the musical moments lack panache. The best thing you can hope for this vanity project is that it generates some interest in Lee’s back catalogue, but first you have to trudge through the plodding melodrama, shopworn familial conflicts, choppy plotting and clunky acting.
Youth gone wild: Julie Tan is a bad influence on Benjamin Kheng.
Benjamin Kheng, as the rebellious young Dick, is rarely convincing as a misunderstood artist (“I’m going to be a pop star!”). He just comes off as an insufferable brat crying for attention, and for most of the part, a total schmuck. His scenes with a stiff Julie Tan — in a poorly written role of a wild girl who leads Lee astray — is forced and awkward. Just like his ’70s ’do.
I think there’s a good movie to be made about Dick Lee’s contribution to Singapore pop music. One day, they’ll get it right, in a film where the lead actor’s hair doesn’t steal the thunder. (**)