The Guilty Pleasure Pile: My Wife is 18

Ekin Cheng in a rare non-preening face deals with the multi-faceted energy of Charlene Choi

Generally Speaking, we at Forced Perspective love great films and detest bad films. But what happens when one of us grows fond of a film that we know in our hearts is total crap? This is where we stash such films: The Guilty Pleasure Pile.

Several months ago in the inaugural post from The Guilty Pleasure Pile, I confessed my love for the masterpiece of marketing, Dante Lam’s The Twins Effect. Now, I turn my attention to another silly, fluffy film, the romantic comedy My Wife is 18, which actually just so happens to star both Ekin Cheng and Charlene Choi (the taller Twin) from my previous guilty pleasure. In fact, many of my guilty pleasures star either Ekin Cheng and/or one or both of the Twins, but I promise in the future I’ll try and cover something that people who don’t know every last detail about the Hong Kong film industry will actually care about.

Anyway, My Wife is 18 begins with Cheng (Ekin Cheng) presenting his master thesis to the board at his university in England. It is not specified what university he attends, but if they accepted Ekin Cheng, it definitely ain’t Oxford. The status of Ekin University becomes increasingly clear when we learn that the subject of his thesis is women. Women? Really? How the fuck do you expect to get your masters writing about such a wide subject? Dear god, Ekin, I hope you’re planning on becoming a professor of Human Sexuality because I see no use for anyone who writes their master thesis on women.


Unless it turns out that this is all a metaphor for Cheng’s complete inability to understand and/or appreciate women, setting him up as the protagonist of a wacky romantic comedy where the right woman teaches him to love and respect women for who they are and become all feminist and shit, yo.

Taller Twin Charlene Choi appears as Yoyo, a spunky high school girl who is in England being match-made with Cheng, a last minute marriage made to appease Cheng’s senile grandmother, who is so blind and senile that she seems to think that Yoyo is busty. Normally I would consider mentioning bustiness in a review to be tasteless and misogynistic, but the film seems to think that making fun of Charlene Choi’s lack thereof is a great source of humor and/or melodrama. They meet cute when Yoyo is out and about in London with Cheng’s picture and happens to notice him on the street and confronts him. This, of course, is after Cheng’s dissertation is rejected by the all-female board at his university. The two of them instantly dislike each other, but agree to get temporarily married for a year to appease poor grandma, who is on her last limb.

At this point, I’m pretty sure you know exactly what the overall plot structure of this movie is going to be. You probably think that the two of them are going to nitpick at each other and see other people, hoping to find the right person to be with after their one-year marriage finally comes to an end, only to slowly realize that they actually do love and care about each other and that their marriage was not such a bad thing after all, and that Cheng will write his thesis on Yoyo and earn his master’s degree off his charming story about her, for he has truly taught her all there is to know about women, and ultimately the two of them will decide to stay together. Well, what if I told you that you were wrong? What if I told you that the film successfully avoids autopilot storytelling to instead tell a truly original story that gradually unfolds in unexpected ways?

Well, I’d be lying, because you were completely correct in your first assumption.

So why do I actually like the generic fluff that is My Wife is 18? Because it’s completely ridiculous. Yoyo, despite being in high school, has her own apartment (and a pretty damn nice one at that). Cheng becomes a teacher at Yoyo’s all girls school (despite not having his masters). The two of them run around a shopping mall trying to hid their marriage. Perhaps the best scene in the movie is a complete send-up of Wong Kar-Wai’s masterpiece In the Mood for Love, with Yoyo trying to seem mature to impress Cheng’s friends.

These silly little scenes are actually a load of fun to watch, even if some of the humor is extremely mean spirited at times. For example, the fact that there is an overweight student is supposed to be funny. The movie thinks it’s funny. I don’t. But whatever.

It’s also nice to see Ekin Cheng playing against type. Normally he plays completely wooden-faced badasses: triad heroes, vampire slayers, wuxia supermen, etc. He fares much better as the immature, simple minded man-boy Cheng. Can’t really say the same about Charlene, who pretty much plays type to a tee, but her energy is at least cute and fun to watch. Just like the rest of this generically conceived slice of guilty pleasure.


About Adam DiPiazza
I love Peach Snapple.

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