When word of Thai actor Vachirawit Chivaaree, aka Bright, being in a movie with an Indian setting was announced, fans went feral over the revelation. The poster looks right out of a Bollywood movie, and the trailer even includes a Bollywood-ish song that got people excited. Congrats My Ex! tells the story of Risa, a Thai wedding planner who is tasked with planning the wedding of her Indian ex-boyfriend in Thailand. Desperate for money, she takes on the job even though she knows it’ll lead to heartbreak. But, immediately, catastrophe strikes, and she has to find her other ex, Tim, to do the photography for the wedding. With both her exes in the picture, an adventure of a lifetime awaits Risa. Or so you’d imagine. I, for one, have barely seen any Thai media, but this movie is quite boring with its predictable Bollywood plotlines and slapstick comedy that is more cringe-worthy than anything else. The film feels like fanfiction written by a Thai fan of Indian movies. To be fair, the research is there, and for the most part, the cultural representation is pretty decent.
I’m as excited about a good rom-com as the neighborhood plain Jane, but I’ve got to admit, Congrats My Ex! was not even slightly amusing. The comedic timing is terrible, the jokes are even worse, and the dialogue is the cherry on top. What makes the film tolerable is the cast and their charm, which is reflected mostly in the Thai parts. It’s the English dialogue that really bogs down the film, making it feel stiff and unsubtle. Everyone tries their best to work with what they’ve got, but at the end of the day, it’s like being forced to listen to the neighborhood aunt’s gossip. While the concept of this Indo-Thai film seems to be fantastic, it doesn’t reflect particularly well on screen. In fact, it makes you want to hide under covers and never think about it again. Attempting to give off the drama and pizzazz of a Bollywood film, the overexaggerated style comes across as too fake and tiresome.
Moreover, it’s the plot that truly fails to make any sense and feels plastered on at the last minute. It has a forceful climax that includes a white horse (ugh!) and some corny dialogue about “God’s Whispers”. In terms of characters, Risa is definitely the most attractive of the lot. She’s meant to be a strong-willed, scarily precise event manager, but for some reason, at the sound of her ex’s arrival, she becomes a deflated balloon. There’s only so much a person can change. Fortunately, with Tim’s entry, she’s more herself, and there is some decent bickering between the two of them in Thai. On the other hand, Tim’s presence is literally that of the trophy-ex. He’s barely in the film, and when he is, he’s showcasing some fantastic talent of his while being titled “Jack of all trades” (this isn’t really a good thing, no?). Bella Ranee Campen is good as Risa and tries her best to make her over-the-top acting feel believable. A highlight of the film is definitely the costuming (definitely not the Indian stuff), and to be honest, I may have been watching only for her outfits at some point. Her final look is fantastic, and she looks stunning—a real-life princess who doesn’t really need a Prince Charming.
Bright’s charming as always and brings life to the film whenever he’s on-screen; even if it’s to do a sword fight, take pictures, or perform magic tricks, he’s got it all in his back pocket. There’s something really alluring about him as an actor, and I can understand why the world is gaga over him, but in this film, it’s just not enough. Mahir Pandhi does the best he can as Arun, but there isn’t really any chemistry between him and the lead, giving off the “I’m missing my ex at my own wedding” vibe. Anahita Bhooshan brings in as much Bollywood as she can with the little she has to do in the film as Monica, the bride-to-be. The success of any romantic comedy hinges on the chemistry between its lead actors, but here there isn’t really any time for us to feel any kind of love between either couple. Still, the film uses all the formulas it can: falling into the arms of your ex, looking at the other secretly, and forced proximity—you name it, and this film’s probably got it. It’s meant to be a comedy of errors, but all I can see are errors.
In terms of humor, Congrats My Ex! uses additional side characters to make fun of the lead or become the butt of the jokes, either of which completely ruins the nice set-up that it has going on. Risa’s friends are fun, and they could’ve been better utilized by properly helping her rather than just being there for the sake of the existence of a friend group. The additional Indian characters, like Arun’s parents, are strangely important in this film, and while some of their interactions are quite funny, the overall approach feels a little distasteful. Somewhere in the second half of the film is the “Sangeet” ceremony with a dance number. I did very much fast-forward said song after about half a minute of watching it. Still, it is a decent attempt.
Ultimately, Congrats My Ex! (which isn’t very long) feels like a real bore, and you start to count the minutes to its end. The climax isn’t great either, and it just ends up being an overall forgettable film. There are some sexual references and a little profanity in the film. I’d give it about 2 stars for the attempt.