Excruciatingly painful viewing1/10
I'm not sure which movie the other people on this review board have been watching, because when I went to see this (in Canada), even total strangers were compelled to connect afterwards about how painful it was, while leaving the cinema to meet their other friends who had walked out earlier..
I normally love Simon Pegg, love what you might call "existential" or "whimsical" stories such as Amelie, Walter Mitty, About Schmidt, anything along that broad spectrum between Love Actually and Ingmar Bergman.
Paradoxically, one of the life-rules it thrusts down your gullet with all the subtlety of feeding a foie gras goose, is that you should be true to yourself, and genuine....exactly like this movie isn't.
It's told from a distinctly lazy, privileged, patronising and comfortable point of view, and even offensively stereotypical and superficial about non-western cultures:
In China it's all big dinners and sleazy old white dudes with high-class Asian hookers and migrant workers everywhere..
Africa is all about dangerous and primitive conditions with a few casual lines of dialogue thrown in about how foreign aid doesn't get to the people who need it.
Simon Pegg, after being pistol-whipped repeatedly in the face, defecating in a bucket and left to rot by kidnappers, then being dumped by the roadside and narrowly escaping death...is miraculously and instantly in the mood to party. Cue: Reams of colourfully dressed Africans, apparently with nothing better to do than to than dance around as if straight out of a Kenyan tourist board commercial, make everything OK again in, like, two minutes flat. Any human would be traumatised and need recovery in hospital after that ordeal but there is no time to be authentic in this movie, we've got synthetic emotions to ooze and platitudes to preach. "The audience won't notice.."
Oh, and then there is a revelation of an interracial gay couple, which is meant to be poignant and meaningful, except we really don't know these guys and therefore don't care whatsoever. It's as if the filmmakers assume that the audience are brain dead peasants who have been locked in a room their whole lives: "Gay interracial couples exist folks, it's true" Wow...really?
Sometimes a bad movie is just a bad movie for whatever reasons and that is a shame, but what really got me so incensed with this was the flippant way it dealt with huge important concepts such as: Happiness, relationships, race, sexuality, culture etc.etc.
It's like a casual holiday travelogue with a thin veneer of paint on top, promising: "If you, as a human, sometimes think about your place in the universe and what happiness is, then you will want to watch this and be rewarded by learning a thing or two."
To which I responded: "Great, here's my $15, can't wait!" But underneath the paint there is just...more paint. Maybe, just maybe, they could make fortune cookies with the messages in this movie, that might fit the maturity level of the wisdom it literally RAMS down your throat.
And don't get me started on the jolly Tibetan Monks...the Dalai Lama would cringe.