Review: For a film titled The Guys, Raditya Dika’s quick follow-up to his star-studded, box office making Hangout, it ‘almost’ lives up to the title; had some more dominating sub-plot not overtaken the spotlight. Dika, as writing-and-starring director, displays more maturity in his ‘usual romantic comedy’ trope, but who knows that this film isn’t about that at all.
In The Guys, Raditya Dika stars as Alfi, an employee in an agency, who shares a flat with his co-workers, Rene (Marthino Lio), Aryo (Indra Jegel), and a Thai expat, Sukun (Phongsiree Bunluewong). Alfi is a straight Dika’s typical character – a loser in love; that before his chivalrous act enchant Amira (Pevita Pearce). Things go south when Amira’s widowed father (Tarzan) also starts developing feeling towads Alfi’s widowed mother (Widyawati). With aids from his BFF – Best Flatmate Forever – Alfi sets up a plan to mess with the older generation’s relationship to secure his own.
There are basically two apparent points in The Guys: first, the friendship story about those titular guys – which Sukun often refers as ‘the gays’ – and, second, the parents-children relationship competition. Ideally, the former becomes the larger frame and the latter adorns the frame along with other flatmates’ trouble – Rene with his on-and-off relationship, Aryo with his hypothetical love problem (once mentioned in the resolution, but never really had a manifestation), and Sukun with his trouble adapting into Indonesian life and his broken Indonesian grammar. However, the latter dominates the narrative and poses as the frame, hence my opening statement.
Following conventional three-act narrative, The Guys dedicates two-third of its duration to dig up the romantic comedy shindigs. At some points, some romantic moments work despite there’s nothing new with the plot. The love competition is working at all levels as both couple – the younger and the older – bound with each other effectively. Relationship between Alfi and his mother as well as Amira and his father – who, surprisingly, is Alfi’s employer – spice up the conflict with some sweet motivation; Dika’s well-written honest mistakes and miscomprehension add up to this ridiculously sweet conflict with style. This film almost becomes a sweet been-there-done-that generation-gap love story… but it isn’t.
The film’s third act suddenly reminds us that this is a film about the guys – about friendship which has developed for years. Unfortunately, this point that should’ve gotten more focus earlier is neglected and suddenly given the spotlight, just when the other conflict has already been reaching up its climax. In the end, we are given resolution to a conflict that has never developed well in the background and not given one to a conflict that has developed familiarly.
This untidy thread isn’t bound to happen. In fact, buddy films and romantic comedy can actually go hand in hand, when each of its storylines is neatly aligned. You might see that, structurally, The Guys is similar to Hanung Bramantyo’s Jomblo. What makes The Guys flat in comparison is: it’s barely focused and even, despite it has ‘the material’ and the structure.
You can blame Tarzan and Widyawati for stealing the whole attention from Dika and friends. Yet, it’s its unfocused and uneven storytelling, which actually makes The Guys losing its sweet moment. In the end, we must admit that it’s a letdown to Raditya Dika’s growing up directorial potential.
The Guys (2017)
Drama, Comedy Written & Directed by: Raditya Dika, Sunil Soraya, Donny Dhirgantoro Starred by: Raditya Dika, Pevita Pearce, Pongsiree Bunlewong, Tarzan, Widyawati Runtime: 113 mins