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Review | Keluarga Iskandar The Movie

It’s a wild and funny ride with Mak Jah and company…

After a torturously long absence (at least to their die-hard fans) of some 6 years, the much-loved and wildly funny Keluarga Iskandar is finally back. But as the title suggests, the award-winning family comedy mockumentary that ran for 2 seasons on Astro returns in the form of a film, that apparently took quite an effort to make.

It was first announced in 2017 by series producers KL Motion Pictures that following the decision by Astro not to commission a third season, they would independently produce a movie to meet the demand of fans and tie up some loose ends in the story. A crowd-funding campaign with the hashtag #selamatkankeluargaiskandar was then kicked off, along with efforts to secure other sponsorships.

That’s when IRDA (Iskandar Regional Development Authority) came into the picture. The federal government statutory body had previously supported the series, and agreed to back the film idea, even before a distribution deal was secured. This will explain why some of the locations were chosen, but the sponsorship placements are very tastefully and seamlessly done, thankfully.

The final question was where would this be screened? Well, we know now that Astro First became the chosen platform. And with everything that’s been going on in this world, this seems a sound and wise decision.

But, OK; let’s first answer that other burning question. Would you be able to enjoy the film if you’ve never watched the series before? The answer is a resounding yes! The characters are so well-written and performed that you’ll latch on to their idiosyncrasies and individual motivations in no time at all.

Written and directed by Wan Hasliza Zainuddin, the story begins with a flashback to when Uda was banished from home by the family matriarch, Mak Jah (Kismah Johar). We’ve never really seen Uda in the series before, so “Who is Uda?” was actually a great point of discussion among the fans even before filming rolled. And the opening scene is clearly a foreshadow for one of the more important sub-plots.

Back to present day, Mak Jah receives a call from Faris (Mustaqim Mohamed) who tells her that he is about to get married and invites her to the wedding ceremony. The thing is, Faris is not even related and is the ex-boyfriend of the family’s youngest child, Acu (Hiera Hassan). Mak Jah though confusingly calls him her “favourite son-in-law” and plans a road trip to Pontian to fulfill the invitation.

Reluctantly, Abang Long (Hilal Azman), Abang Ngah (Sobri Anuar), Teh (Anita Baharom) and their respective families form the convoy to make Mak Jah happy. (Although Ngah’s wife Kay, played by Susan Lankester is nowhere to be seen; which is a real pity.)

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Left behind are the very pregnant and grumpy Acu and Alan (Zain Hamid). The latter because his ex-fiancé was now Abang Long’s wife, and to avoid an awkward journey, he gets Mak Jah to agree to him staying back (although he has other motives that involve his pet cat).

The road trip starts off normal enough, until Mak Jah decides that they should stop over at an old family friend’s house whom they haven’t seen in a while. From thereon, it’s one detour after another and the visits get weirder and weirder.

At one of the stops, two of the smaller kids, Princess (Wan Rania Humairah) and Dadar (Dhia Iskandar), decide to leave the convoy and go to Legoland on their own (we are in Johor, after all). The rest fail to detect that they’re missing for a while, but when they do, the panic triggers more laugh-out-loud moments.

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Meanwhile, back at the family home, a bunch of relatives from KL – in a school bus, no less! – decide to stop over and visit Mak Jah. When they’re told that Mak Jah was away, they shamelessly invite themselves in and start to make themselves comfortable at home.

Oh, yes. This happens in real life, no doubt. Relatives come, they take over the TV, eat your food and start building a waterpark in your bathroom. It’s one of those, “funny, until it happens to you” scenarios that most of us are quite familiar with. And it’s played out to perfection in ‘Keluarga Iskandar The Movie’.

While you can guess that no great harm will actually happen to the two kids who find themselves being lost in JB, the kalutness of the characters makes this an entertaining road movie.

Mak Jah, of course, has the best lines (and the best stunt moment!) And Kismah Johar who plays the part expertly makes the audience feel like wanting to strangle and please her at the same time. (No, please don’t say that’s how you really feel about your own mother, though).

Fans would say that their devotion to this family stems from the fact that they’re “real”, and that they’re just like any other average middle-income Malay family with endless everyday problems. They eat like real people, drive average cars, and interact naturally, very much unlike the Porsche-driving, billionaire construction entrepreneurs with briefcases you often see on local prime time TV.

Perhaps the ending could be a little tighter. We don’t really know what happens to those troublesome relatives from KL (which features some great cameo appearances by the likes of Razak Ahmad, Amy Mastura and Zarina Zainuddin), and the huge surprise at the end could also be more poignant and powerful.

But ‘Keluarga Iskandar The Movie’ is a thoroughly entertaining ride with plenty of “that happens to our family also!” moments. So, get some kerepek and Coke, and enjoy it with the whole family.

Rating: 4/5

 

‘Keluarga Iskandar The Movie’ is available on Astro First

 

 

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