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Wonder Boy

Opening Date
03 Aug 2017
NC16 Some Drug Use
96 mins
Mandarin / English with English & Chinese subtitles
Biography, Drama
Dick Lee, Daniel Yam
Benjamin Kheng, Julie Tan, Michelle Wong, Ryan Ang, Zachary Ibrahim, Chen Yi Xi, Constance Song
Set in 1970s Singapore, where Rock music was banned and long-haired men were considered gangsters, Wonder Boy follows the story of Richard (Benjamin Kheng), a teenaged aspiring musician and the school's social outcast, as he forms a band - The Wonder Boys - and embarks on his coming-of-age journey through youthful ambition, friendships, first love, and the uncertainty of impending adulthood.
By Kimberly Tan  02 Aug 2017
More than anything, 'Wonder Boy' reminds us to keep chasing our dreams.
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Inspired by a true story, Wonderboy tells the semi-autobiographical story of Dick Lee and the beginning of his music career. Set in Singapore of the 1970s, it is about Richard’s (Benjamin Kheng) coming-of-age story.

The film is full of raw, charged emotions. Born to a wealthy family that stays in Bukit Timah, Richard is the odd one out in his class. He gets mocked by the cool kids for being nerdy. However, they discover Richard’s musical talent and invite him to form The Wonderboys for the inter-school Talent-time competition. Richard becomes good friends with Mark De Souza (Zachary Ibrahim), the unspoken leader of The Wonderboys.

The film hints at Richard’s romantic feelings towards Mark, but it is never explicitly stated. Much of the story is told to us implicitly, forcing the audience to fill in the blanks. This makes the movie experience fun and intriguing, but treads a fine line of being a tad confusing. 

The pace of the film is rather slow, reflecting the reality of 1970s Singapore. There are a few incidents in the film which comes about as shocking, but the plot never hits a true climax that really moved the audience. Granted, there are certain turning points in the film that heightens its drama, but it lacks that drastic peak that will allow the audience to fully empathise with the character(s).

The film shows how the different aspects of Richard’s life intersect – his family, friends and love life. It also delves a bit into drugs and the raunchy side of 1970s Singapore, but the scenes were flashed out vaguely. Perhaps there could have been a greater exploration and focus on those scenes. Generally, the film is more like a comedic-documentary.

Ultimately, the film is about one boy’s dream to let his music be heard by the world. His passion for music shapes most of the events in the film. His stubbornness in pursuing it creates a conflict which the film eventually resolves. Also, the soundtrack is upbeat and refreshing. My personal favourite is the remake of Dick Lee’s classic, Fried Rice Paradise.

Teenagers struggling with finding their own identity in society would resonate with this film. I recommend for every Singaporean to watch it, as it would evoke feelings of nostalgia for the older generation and for the younger ones to get a glimpse of what the past looked like. More than anything, the film reminds us to keep chasing our dreams.
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