The Jakarta Post
Pandji Pragiwaksono’s buddy cop comedy Partikelir is oftentimes hilarious, but overly reliant on easy laughs.
Taking his first stab at filmmaking, Pandji Pragiwaksono wrote and directed buddy cop movie Partikelir, in which he plays Adri, a private detective living out his high-school dream. That dream was once shared, but is later shunned by his best friend Jaka (played by Deva Mahenra), who’s getting restless with his corporate work at a law firm. Adri constantly cajoles Jaka into getting on board with his missions, but Jaka keeps turning him down.
What sounds like a pretty straightforward premise must have been quite a task for Pandji, who’s made a name for himself as a comedian, both on stage and off. But in being faithful to and fond of the genre — think 22 Jump Street or The Heat — he manages to imbue his action-comedy film with a notable consistency.
Which means that the laughs (or attempts to generate them) keep on coming: Partikelir never misses an opportunity for comedy. Its conduits include a pair of shining nipples, a presumably pot-addled conversation, inept guards (one with a high-pitched voice, played by Agung Hercules), dumb criminals and fourth-wall breaking.
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In one scene, actress Aurelie Moeremans’ character, Tiara, approaches Adri for a possible investigation of her father. She meets him at the movies, where Adri informs her that he is currently watching Soleh Solihun’s film Mau Jadi Apa.“Aurelie Moeremans is in this movie,” he says to her.
Action ready: The cast of Partikelir includes (from left) Deva Mahenra, Pandji Pragiwaksono, Villand Volt and David Saragih. (Starvision/File)
The investigation involves a fictional national drug body, Lembaga Narkotika Nasional (LNN), whose chief, played by Tio Pakusadewo, is involved in the distribution of rantau, a drug that makes people who consume it act strangely and then lose stamina immediately. By staking out Tiara’s father, Adri is in for an ordeal that’s decidedly bigger than him.
Through this particular storyline Pandji sneaks in a dash of commentary: That sometimes, drug lords perceive the world to be incontrovertibly filled with evil, giving them a sort of license to add to it. There is also a refreshing, and not at all contrived, moment in the movie when Jaka asks Tiara if she’s up for a possibly dangerous mission.
“Why? Because I’m a girl?” she asks.
Sounds heavy, right? But the movie makes sure that no, this isn’t one of those movies. You know it’s a deep movie when it pulls a switcheroo on the audience. This proves detrimental to some of the film’s scenes which, in a better buddy cop film, would be given better treatment. Take the fights. When cornered, just pull a fake gun and of course the criminals would back down. Or have the seemingly indestructible guy, in this case Mas Yudi (played by a one-dimensional Cornelio Sunny), beat the crap out of them with ease. The idea for comedic skirmishes is fine, but Partikelir executes them with the comfort of an amateur.
What helps is the thorough development of the main characters. Adri can’t seem to shake off his high-school fancy of becoming a detective, inspired by the popular Lupus books. Jaka has a caring wife (Puti, played by Lala Karmela) and overbearing in-laws, so he can’t afford to be roped into one of Adri’s missions. Tiara cares for her cancer-stricken mother, so she’d fight for anything that could bring her comfort. The hysterical Geri (Ardit Erwandha), a big fan of Adri, would do anything for the guy, even when times are hard.
The same, however, cannot always be said about the supporting characters — they are either stereotypes or caricatures such as effeminate men, obese men or over-the-top comedians. Easy laughs have a breaking point, and Partikelirreaches that by the film’s end.
Still, the commentary, the theme and the self-awareness make Partikelir at least a consistent film, one that Pandji delivers with a knowing wink.
(Starvision, 97 minutes)
Director: Pandji Pragiwaksono
Screenwriters: Pandji Pragiwaksono, Goks Writing Team
Cast: Pandji Pragiwaksono, Aurelie Moeremans, Deva Mahenra, Lala Karmela, Cornelio Sunny