[Review] “Coffee Cat Mama” (By Funn)
Coffee Cat Mama <貓屎媽媽>
Hong Kong TVB Drama 2013
Producer: Nelson Cheung
Genre: Romantic Comedy
“His (Vincent Wong) performance in this series sealed his fate as TVB’s best young actor in my heart”
Former known as Mr and Mrs Bean
A bit on the former title
The cafe in this series is called Mr & Mrs Bean, named after Nancy’s deceased husband and herself aka Mr & Mrs Bean. The new title is more about moms and cafes. Whilst both titles are kinda not on point, both titles are also kinda not NOT on point. Point is I like Mr & Mrs Bean more.
Bosco Wong, Koo Ming Wah, Vincent Wong, Michelle Yim, Mimi Chu, May Chan, Jonathan Cheung, Nancy Wu, Eliza Sam, Miki Yeung, Mimi Lo, Regen Cheung, Du Yan Ge, Ha Ping
Taken from Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coffee_Cat_Mama)
The drama revolves around numerous individuals and their relationship to a cafe start-up in Hong Kong.
That’s it?! Really?
If you have been reading the synopsis here, may I say the synopsis there is 100% inaccurate.
By myself in a separate post in main blog when I was watching the series. You can read them all here.
I had little hope for this series since I didn’t really like Bosco for a start. But I love Vincent Wong and the idea of him with May Chan as a couple intrigued me. With a skinny bean pole-ish guy and a heavy woman as girlfriend I was ready for onslaught of fat jokes and what nots but I feel in this area this series dealt with the issue marvelously. From episode 1 until episode 20 minus the last 15 minutes, I was perfectly happy with this series. The last 15 minutes had me scratching my head curiously and then as I sat on my opinion for the next few days, that curiosity grew into frustration which grew into anger. Yes, I am angry. I can’t understand why for a supposed comedy had to end with everyone so bloody miserable. I mean misery is sometimes funny but not as presented in this series. And so, rarely do I say so but I shall say it, ignore the last 15 minutes ever happened and I like this series fine enough.
So what is there to like? I do agree with some criticisms that this series didn’t really have a major plot. If opening a cafe is a plot, yes there was one but nothing major ever happened to the cafe except being trashed one time. But even after trashing there was no financial problem whatsoever. In other words, there was no disaster. I also agree with the relationships, nothing major happened also. Some summary wrote that Michelle and Nancy who disagreed with one another later ganged up to tear apart the lovebirds, Eliza and Bosco since they both disapproved of Bosco’s lowly status and the fact that he was a single father of one. I was waiting for that to happen, and waited and waited and waited and in the end, nothing of that dramatic sort happened. In fact plot wise this series was lacking some huge punch. Basically this series is more of a character driven series and it flows where it wants to take you. Don’t expect shouting matches, tearful goodbyes, angry encounters … it was a rather “well behaved” series which to me is ok because after Brother’s Keeper with it plot driven series minus any character growth, I welcome a relaxing funny witty series.
And this series has plenty of that sort; witty funny scenes, thanks mostly to the male cast. The ladies were more like us; being driven along, going with the flow wherever the male characters wanted to take them. And I do like the characters who were decent folks. Again nothing dramatic or sinister.
GRACE BEAN & PAU CHI TAI
Eliza Sam plays a young woman with difficulty in making choices. If you asked her to make a choice out of making a choice or not make a choice, she will falter. She was however not so much falter when choosing to fall for Bosco’s Pau Chi Tai. I am not saying this is one great love story. It is similar to her character’s situation in Divas In Distress; single father with a young child, etc etc. However, I find her character in Divas In Distress more fleshed out and more bite and the love story more convincing and emotionally more provoking. In Coffee Cat Mama, her love story with Bosco was… uneventful. Only slight objections, very little wooing involved and not much declaration of love. There was however I believe 3 kissing scenes but even those were either accidental or not very romantic kissing scenes.
However I do like both actors.
Eliza is cute. Her Cantonese has improved tremendously and I could understand her unless she had to speak more than 5 lines at one go which then she will falter, a little. Her best scene was when she tearfully told Bosco that she was in love with him, not so much as so direct but in not so many words, she did confessed her love. Her eyes was puffy from crying and she looked genuinely upset. I find her a far better actress than most of her naysayers say she is.
As for Bosco, I think this is the first time I have seen his series in full. I genuinely can’t remember watching anything else with Bosco in it where I finished all the episodes. Frankly I like him more in such easygoing role. He has a knack for comedy as in reacting well in comedic situation. I thought this series was a joy to watch thanks to Bosco. However one part he faltered, as in he did so badly but that was because the writing was just wrong. Which part you asked? That part where he was so out mentally when he thought he was given CPR by first a man, then an old nun. I thought it was such an idiotic scene; such pettiness and I didn’t find it funny at all. Other than that, Bosco was stellar and he had great chemistry with the boy who played his son as well as everyone else.
YAM KA CHING & TOFFEE
The pair I really liked was May Chan and Vincent Wong. Whenever I saw them, I kept thinking of what Wong Cholam said in the ASTRO awards about pairing May Chan and Ruco Chan. I tell you, a good actor will make this pairing work and Vincent Wong is a very good actor. I was first too happy to see absence of any fat jokes. The fact that Fei Fei (May Chan) is fat is of no bearing to the story. It in fact made her cuter and showed that Vincent as Yam Ka Ching fell for her because of her inner beauty. And Fei Fei is seriously TV’s nicest girlfriend, ever. Often in this series you will hear Yam Ka Ching say “I have a really really nice girlfriend” and for once, it is very very true. I was hoping for Fei Fei to marry Ka Ching but the moment we are told Ka Ching and Nancy’s So Mei were childhood BFFs, I know all was lost. I speculated Fei Fei will leave Ka Ching and bless him with So Mei and I was right, partially. She was even more awesome than what I speculated and Ka Ching wasn’t a jerk or a douchebag for being with So Mei. No one was at fault in this triangle love, except maybe So Mei. I wasn’t convinced with So Mei being in love with Ka Ching. I thought she felt he was convenient, and that was all. This is really due to poor writing and the suddenness of So Mei being in love with Ka Ching and then conveniently forgot about her much loved dead husband. In fact, halfway through this series, Mr Bean seems to vanished from everyone’s memory. Anyway May Chan was delightful. My most favourite moment of her was when she sang and danced to Leslie Cheung’s songs, despite being the vice president to Alan Tam’s fanclub. It was hilarious. And everything in this series showed May Chan in a very good light; any man will be lucky to have a very very good girlfriend like Fei Fei, aptly named Toffee.
Vincent Wong is the main reason why I watched this series. After his sinister turn in Will Power to which he received his well deserved Most Improved award, I was wondering can he be funny? Well, he proves it; he can be a hunk, he can be evil and he can be house husband material. There is nothing he can’t do. I bet he can even be emperor or some wuxia hero or even the dragon Smaug if he wants to. I will say except for some very lazy writing (the ending in particular), Vincent’s performance was pitch perfect. I love the way he interpreted his role. Yes, he may be home economics teacher and probably can cook/knit/sew better than any woman out there, he is by no means a coward or a mousy person. He was the first to voice his displeasure at any wrongdoing. He will scold his friend if he thinks his friend is wrong. He will stand up for what’s right, unless of course confessing to Nancy’s So Mei of his deep love for her. He is to me quite a masculine man in his own way and I can see why Fei Fei loved him so much. I love the way he stands; a slight stoop. Usually Vincent stands quite erect but here, notice his posture. Notice the way he holds his recycle bag and he proves he has chemistry with his cast mate, his glasses AND his bags unlike another actor. I love the fact that the camera zooms into his animated face whenever he is speaking his lines and you see everything; emotions and all, laid bare for us to see. I also love he is no holds bar as an actor. Famous for being slapped dozens of times (twice in different series by different veterans), now I feel he is famous for his natural gestures; how he picked food for May Chan with his chopstick, how he laid his head on her shoulder in appreciated, kissed her forehead and of course in his most romantic scene ever, cradled the fainted Fei Fei (from hunger) and declared “I will never let you go hungry again” which to me is my sort of man. I love the fact that his Yam Ka Ching loves Fei Fei not as a rebound or even feel that Fei Fei is not on par with So Mei but that he genuinely love her and like her as a person, a girlfriend and a friend. He sees nothing wrong with letting her be who she is. However Fei Fei lost out to So Mei simply because So Mei was his childhood crush and you can’t compete with a 20 year old secret crush. His very best scene was to me this series best confrontation scene ever; the one where he confronted with So Mei about her knowing he was in love with him for many years and knew this since Form 7. All his pain, disappointment, heartache and sense of betrayal bared for the audience to see. I thought his performance in that scene was just perfect. I felt for his Yam Ka Ching. In case you can’t understand why Ka Ching was so hurt or was right to be hurt, perhaps you might want to read my analysis here (see 09.01.2014 post). I also pitied Fei Fei for the inevitable but strangely I never quite begrudge Ka Ching for being with So Mei. His performance in this series sealed his fate as TVB’s best young actor in my heart. I feel next year he must be given an award for this performance alone.
May Chan is cute, and whilst I have issues with her own perception of herself which is lacking, I feel she has nothing to be ashamed of. She is very talented as an actress and whilst she was raw in Inbound Troubles, she displayed her fine acting skills in an emotionally charged performance in Bounty Lady. Her scene about finding someone to love her was heart wrenching. In here, it is not as emotionally charged but still a sizable role. Upping the cute factor, she made Fei Fei into someone I want to cheer on whatever the obstacles. And I love the fact that her size is not the issue. I find that a positive thing.
Nancy Wu comes into this series as a fan favourite and she has quite a dedicated fan base who cries that she isn’t the first lead in any series. Well for this series she looks too mature to be in Eliza’s role. Although she is Mrs Bean, an honour shared with Michelle Yim, halfway through this series she disappeared and made way for Eliza’s Grace in this series. I will however say she is shared first lead with Eliza, much like Vincent with Bosco. But if you must be specific, of course Eliza is 1st lead and Nancy is 2nd lead, but a lead nonetheless. Her character So Mei started off very promisingly catty with Michelle Yim, however quarter way she lost her bite. Some more way later, she lost her love for Mr Bean because she stopped thinking about him (that’s how I interpret it anyway). Towards the end she just lost everything. I never quite like So Mei, and I particularly disliked her after Yam Ka Ching poured out his heart why he was so hurt by her betrayal. She was very callous with him to say the least and took him for granted. I like however how she tried to redeem herself, etc etc but by then my opinion of her was very low; I felt she wasn’t really in love with Ka Ching. I felt she was just missing her BFF. Her character was not very well developed to tell you the truth. Some time a mature stepmom, some time a persistent ruthless boss and in the end like a little spoilt girl. I was confused by her character and in part her portrayal which wasn’t consistent. She wasn’t bad. In fact Nancy is a competent actress but due to the fluctuations in her character, I find her inconsistent. Also it may be because I like May Chan more and I dislike how Ka Ching didn’t end up with Fei Fei although the ending may suggest otherwise. As for her fans crying the injustice of Nancy always the bridesmaid and never the bride, look, she is doing just fine. Again you may be interested in my analysis here which I am reposting for convenience. Don’t cry for Nancy, she is really doing quite well.
KOO MING WAH
Koo Ming Wah is So Sick here which is direct opposite of his Divas In Distress character which is So Gay, his breakthrough role. So Sick is a fine character, love his obsession with porn and how he associated everything with porn. However I am baffled why his character has got the most “worst editing” in this series. His scenes were jumpy, some made no sense, continuation was terrible and his reaction to certain scenes seem overblown although I believe that is because previous scenes were left on editing floor. I do love his scenes with Mimi Chu. His speech may be rough but basically So Sick is actually a nice guy. Basically a fantastic actor but brought down by very very bad editing.
Mimi Chu’s Sam Cha Hau (3 tongued mouth) is such a joy to watch. I love how So Sick is always shouting at her and she is shouting at him, truly like uncouth people except there are families like that and still love one another. Her best moment was her rather passionate kissing scene with Vincent Wong. This time Vincent was not slapped by a veteran but KISSED by a veteran or rather he kissed her. It was the scene where a drunk Yam Ka Ching told Mimi that So Mei was a third party in a relationship and marrying an older guy and as he thought she was So Mei, he was busy fondling her and kissing her on the lips. Such a scene would not have been funny but I love how Mimi reacted as she was busy thinking “My daughter a third party?” and such revelations that she was just too stunned to push him away. You have got to watch this scene and of course Mimi’s performance.
Compared to Mimi, Michelle Yim was too reserved to be that sort of actress to compete with the great Mimi Chu. I find her character pointless really. No development, anything interesting was in the first few episodes and after that it just went downhill. Her performance was also mostly one note.
Compared to Michelle Yim, Ha Ping who played the wise but befuddled Sister Lolita was such a fun performance to watch. She has one of the funniest moment in this series; the song hallelujah sung and it was her handphone ringtone and I swear I laughed so hard it hurt. I love how Sister Lolita is in everyone’s life and her character added to this series a sense of quirkiness that I love and that I find so refreshing to watch. Anyway I was curious how she looked like when she was younger and so I googled and found the following:-
Wow! She was what we call a babe!
She plays Sung Chaubo, mother of Bosco’s son. No they were never married and she was supposedly very much in love with Fan Fatt before he ran away to Jamaica. Anyway, competent performance as a really irresponsible mother. I love how Tai Chi Pau basically never give her any respect since she lies her way through life and keeps disappointing the son.
I see Mimi’s name in the cast list and for the life of me I can’t remember her in this series. I do know who she is (apart from being Power Chan’s wife) and then I remember; was she the prostitute Ah Fung?! If yes my god, she looked so different! If she is, or even if she isn’t, I find Ah Fung to be rather interesting and pitiful.
Took me a while to find the name to the actress who played Eliza’s sister. Anyway found her. Competent performance of a very annoying girl. I hated how she snickered when poor Fei Fei begged So Mei to leave Ka Ching. Which means she was competent in her performance.
DU YAN GE
Mr Bean played by Du Yan Ge. Thanks to Kidd for a bit of snippet on this actor whom at first I thought was Elliot Yue/Ngok;
The actor’s name is Du Yan Ge (杜燕歌). He was a the head of TVB’s mandarin dubbing department. I think he only recently moved to acting. The first time I saw him is in Beauty At War. He was also in Karma Rider as the main villain.According to chinese wiki (http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E6%9D%9C%E7%87%95%E6%AD%8C), he is Mary Hon’s husband. Ahhhh I see!! … no comment.
I was very surprised to see Jonathan Cheung Wing Hong in here as someone totally opposite from his star turn as Fan Kan in 3 Kingdoms RPG. I do think from henceforth his surname will be Fan in any series! In here as an obvious pun to his famous character in 3 Kingdoms RPG, he is Fan Fatt (literally committing a crime) or Fatt Wan Gor, neither is a positive name. He looks very cool, hardly smiles since he is a reformed gangster turned barista. I love his performance and his chemistry with Bosco in some of the best moments in this series (such as Fan Kan wiping Tai Chi Pau’s lips in a very natural and fluid gesture as if he has been doing that for many years). I hated his ending which is the last 15 minutes of this series but for what it is worth, I love Jonathan Cheung. Loved him in 3 Kingdoms RPG, loved him in Return Of Silver Tongue (as another Mr Fan, this time Fan Kang – rice spoon literally) and loved him in here. He is always a highlight and a boost to any series he is in.
And that is at the end of the day why I really liked Coffee Cat Mama minus the last 15 minutes. At the beginning it all seems so quirky which I thought was so unlike any TVB series I have seen, and it was seriously funny. The lines were witty, the situation was funny, characters were cute, and none were the sort where you hate. However the momentum slowed down when the focus was on Bosco and Eliza. Not that they were terrible, both were cute but somehow the momentum was lost as they were not particularly funny or quirky. Things were much better with Vincent and gang. But worse was with Michelle Yim, whether alone or with anyone else. She was such a bore to watch because she wasn’t funny, she wasn’t quirky and yet she wasn’t nasty enough to have any sort of personality. Her character was confusing and whilst she is not likable, you can’t really hate her character. For a series about the sacrifices of a mother or rather the difficulties of being a mother (step mother as well), the focus on this aspect in this series was at best minimal.
Which is why I feel rather confused with this series as it went on towards the obvious happy ending except the last 15 minutes which showed the expected pairings didn’t end happily. It would seem to the writer that he might have thought in misery there is comedy. True but when everyone was so happy prior to that and to see 3 years later, bickering couples and what nots, it felt unfinished and sloppy. It feels like whatever I have seen prior to this 15 minutes were just not serious. I find the ending lack consistency and more importantly, integrity to the story. Maybe there really isn’t a story to begin with.
Point is I really like this series. But I really hate the last 15 minutes. Much like how much I hated the last episode of Bottled Passion but luckily this series is not as terrible as that last episode. It is however such a miserable ending that I feel whatever laughter I have in me is gone.
Highly recommended. Fans of Bosco, Koo Ming Wah and especially Vincent Wong will definitely love this series. I enjoyed it very much. Except ignore the last 15 minutes.
The entire series is about coffee and barista and frankly I can never get the western coffee culture. I am more like Tai Chi Pau at the beginning; more into the ordinary coffee rather than cappuccino and whatnots. I find the whole way of appreciating coffee Coffee Cat Mama style too tiring but that is a personal preference. I like my Malaysian coffee such as kopi, kopi-o, kopi-ping, kopi-o-ping, etc. Well that’s not entirely true. I am more into tea and specifically Chinese tea AND iced lemon tea (HK style) or in Malaysia if you call iced lemon tea at coffee shop you will notice it is actually iced LIME tea which is more fragrant except if you’re in HK where the 2 best drinks I ever had was iced lemon tea AND coca-cola slurpee.
This review was written by Funn Lim, a Contributing Writer at JayneStars.com, and was originally posted at www.point2e.com.
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[Review] “Coffee Cat Mama” (By Funn)