Philly Fest Report: Joni's Promise (Janji Joni) Review

Todd Brown, Founder and Editor

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When we first caught wind of Indonesian blockbuster comedy Joni's Promise some months back it came to us tagged as a Sabu style comedy. And while the basic plotline with it's constantly running lead character does sound like the sort of thing Sabu would come up with it is far more straightforward than Japan's unsung, soft spoken comic auteur's work. In fact Joni's Promise is a film that could very easily be translated into English and shot as a straight up American remake with no alterations required. And it would probably be a hit here, too.

Joni is ayoung man of twenty two, living and working in Jakarta as a delivery boy, carting film reels from theater to theater so that the theater owners can save money on prints by running the same copy at multiple theaters simultaneously. Joni has never had a girlfreind but he doesn't mind, he's happy with his life and takes pride in his work, particularly with the fact that he has never been late on a delivery. But that all changes when he spots a beautiful young woman in the theater lobby one day and screws up the nerve to approach her. She seems friendly enough, and falttered by his attention, but she agrees to give him her name on one condition only: Joni must make sure that the film she is watching plays uninterrupted until the final credits roll. He cannot be late getting the reels into the theater. Surely this is a simple thing? Joni has never been late before, but on this day he will have to deal with motorcycle thieves, birthing mothers, rock bands, anda menacing artist rumored to have magical powers.

Joni's Promise is a film aimed squarely at the mainstream, feel good through and through. It is clever more than smart and dependent almost entirely on the charms of its leading man to get the job done. It generally plays things right up the middle, aiming for pleasant more than exceptional, and it is that overall generic 'niceness' that makes it ripe for remaking. It also makes it ultimately fairly forgettable, with characters and situations tending to bleed out fairly quickly after leaving the theater. This is film as diversion and as diversions go it is pleasant enough but it lacks the bite that would give it staying power.

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