Grow Your Own

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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner13/06/2007

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 101 mins

Average comedy-drama that's not as moving or as funny as it thinks it is, but remains watchable thanks to strong performances and likeable characters.

What's it all about?
Kung Sang (Benedict Wong) is a Chinese refugee who has become mute since losing his wife. His two young children, Phoenix and Dragon (Sophie Lee and Jeffrey Li) persuade him to get psychiatric help, which leads to his placement on the Blacktree Road allotment scheme, along with other refugee families.

Led by the officious Big John (Phillip Jackson), the long term plot-holders are initially suspicious of the refugees. However, when a mobile phone company announces plans to build a mast on one of the plots, the community gradually begins to work together.

The Good
The ensemble cast deliver strong performances, particularly Wong, Alan Williams (as bearded, curmudgeonly Kenny) and the seemingly-everywhere Eddie Marsan as Big John's weak-willed son, Little John.

The characters are extremely likeable and there are a number of enjoyable scenes, such as Little John's attempts to get African refugee Miriam (Diveen Henry) to notice him (his colourful shirts get the biggest laughs in the film) or the burgeoning friendship between Kung Sang and Kenny, who admits, I only started talking to you because I didn't think you could understand what I was saying.

The Bad
Grow Your Own would dearly love to be thought of as this year's Full Monty but it's not nearly as funny as it thinks it is and it doesn't quite pack the required emotional punch.

The screenplay, by Frank Cottrell Boyce and Carl Hunter, is strong on character but weak on plot, with several subplots feeling frustratingly underdeveloped as a result. Arguably, there are just too many characters to do justice to everyone's stories.

Worth seeing?
In short, Grow Your Own isn't quite as funny, as clever or as moving as it should have been but it remains watchable thanks to its likeable characters and performances.

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Content updated: 17/11/2019 14:57

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