“Chinatown” is a Hollywood movie directed by Paul Feig and stars the stellar Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, and Chris Hemsworth. Based on the novel “The Chinaman”, “Chinatown” revolves around the life of Mickey Cohen (Wiig), a loner who finds out that his wife has been cheating on him with a Chinese man (McCarthy). After refusing to believe the news, Mickey discovers that he’s got a twin brother named Peter (Hemsworth) living in New York City.
Unfortunately, Peter isn’t much of a surprise because this is a thinly-disguised parody of an Asian family based on the McCarthy family from the book “Frost/Nixon”. The family doesn’t get off to a good start when Richard Nixon (Chris Hemsworth) shoots John F. Kennedy (McCarthy). The result is a lot of conspiracy theories involving a Communist or a New World Order plot to undermine America.
The plot follows a similar pattern to that of the Nicholas Sparks novel, “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius”, (which is itself a reference to the actual novel of that name, by Nobel Prize winner Doris Lessing). As in the story, our protagonist is separated from his family and then left on his own to fend for himself in New York City. But the differences here are that when we meet Mickey, he’s a loner and is not being harassed by anyone. And the death of JFK doesn’t help matters either.
But what makes this movie really great is the fact that it accurately mimics the Chinese American experience, especially after the Khrushchev Spat, where the US retaliated against Soviet Cold War threats by attempting to break the military alliance between the two countries. It wasn’t the first time the US threatened war with Russia, but it was the first time that they retaliated, which didn’t go over well.
The real story of the protagonist, “Chinaman” Richard McCollum, as a father was told by his ex-wife (McCallum) during an interview with the ABC television show “20/20” and although the interview was only seven minutes long, it was all you needed to know about the death of his son, a military officer. His relationship with his son (a Korean War veteran) was very difficult because his son felt like he wasn’t part of the McCollum family because his father had divorced his mother. And I bet you thought I was kidding, but he wasn’t.
Mcaulum has to deal with his daughter, who was raised in the same environment as her mother and brother, but had to grow up fast and was exposed to a different culture. She also has a difficult relationship with her parents because she lives in China and she knows nothing about American life. She’s like a westernized Chinese version of “Annie Hall”, only it’s not a comedy at all.
The movie is truly a coming of age story with a tragic ending that had me laughing aloud throughout the movie, but mostly because of the performance by Ms. McPherson. I’ve seen many films made by Paul Feig and Amy Berg (writer and director) in the past but none so well written as this one.
I recommend this movie to anyone who liked the Harry Potter series or had any desire to watch the most interesting and original story of the year. Go see this movie!