The creators of the Indonesian romantic comedy “Whipped” play versions of themselves, which is the cleverest thing this film (“Bucin,” in Indonesian) has going for it.
To wit — Chandra Liow is ID’d in the opening credits as “single” and the director. He’s an arrogant doofus in the movie, bragging that “I am the MASTER of escape rooms” as he and his comrades must get out of one as part of their “extreme” course on “How not to be ‘whipped’ in relationships.”
Chandra isn’t “master” of anything except declaring his expertise and stealing credit. Repeat after me, “Just like a director.”
Andovi Da Lopez, an actor, plays a neurotic, romantic actor — given to singing to his too-beautiful girlfiend Kiki (Widika Sidmore), indulging her every whim or impulse purchase. He is a poster boy for “whipped.”
Tommy Limm is also an actor, haplessly engaged to Julia (Karina Salim) here, crushed under her weepy tantrums over all the wedding planning.
And “the smart one,” the guy who might get them out of the escape rooms their “course” throws at them? That would be Jovial “Jo” Da Lopez, who wears glasses (signaling “smart” in cinema-ese) and is at the stare-at-our-phones state of his four-year relationship with Cilla (Kezia Aletheia).
The guys wake up from being drugged in an escape room where a lit clock tells them how much time they have to master a task, and a sign that changes from “Patience is Key” to “Honesty is Key” to “Courage is Key.”
Course director Vania (Susan Sameh) barks out orders and clues via a PA system. She’s apparently a Phd candidate in psychology, which makes this “business” her rats-in-a-maze experiment. Beautiful sadist, anyone?
A grievous flaw in this script is Jovial’s sloppy sense of timeline. The “course” isn’t something the four contend with, all in one go. No, they leave, go back to their lonely or henpecked or checked-out-of-the-relationship lives, where shopping gags, yoga classes, karaoke, paintball and wedding planning is supposed to provide more humor and insight on why they’re “Whipped.”
That would have been better handled in flashbacks, streamlining the picture and adding urgency to the escape rooms.
Oh, and making the outside-the-course scenes funnier would have been a BIG help. The only amusing bits are in that escape room, to be honest. And attempts to give this nonsensical story a dark edge — suspense — fail utterly.
Without the sight gags, mugging and wordplay to goose it, “Whipped” just flails away, a lot of energy expended on nothing all that funny or particularly charming.
MPAA Rating: TV-14, innuendo
Cast: Andovi Da Lopez, Jovial Da Lopez, Tommy Limm, Chandra Liow, Susan Sameh, Widika Sidmore, Karina Salim and Kezia Aletheia
Credits: Directed by Chandra Liow, script by Jovial Da Lopez. A Netflix release.
Running time: 1:37