Formula 17 Movie Review
17-year-old Tien (Tony Yang) is new in town, having dragged his red suitcase to the big city after a rough year in school. (His erotic dreams blend sex with math formulas.) He's hoping to crash with his old buddy Yu (Chin King), find a summer job, and lose his virginity, perhaps with a "friend" he's met on the Internet.
We soon learn, though, that Tien only wants to have sex with someone he loves, which the Internet hookup finds hilarious. When Tien goes to visit the flighty (and very funny) Yu at the gay bar where he works, he gets his first look at "Playboy Number 1," the dashing Bai (Duncan), who is also known as "Never Beds Twice." For someone who wants to get to know someone first, Tien is surprisingly quick to fall in love with Bai. But can a teenage "bumpkin" ever expect to find true happiness with an emotionally damaged lothario with beautiful flowing hair and a Gucci wardrobe?
Well, of course he can because, remember, this is a gay paradise, and this movie's dark moments last only seconds and are played for laughs. Bai is equally smitten with Tien, but he knows he will only hurt him, so he goes into avoidance mode. Silly therapy sessions reveal that Tien is simply incapable of love. The doctor suggests that he practice kissing himself in a mirror as an exercise in expressing love. God knows he must have a lot of mirrors. How else could he keep his hair looking so great?
Eventually boy finds boy, boy loses boy, and boy gets boy back as the movie veers away from any emotional truths whatsoever and plummets into mincing feel-good farce. Formula 17 is consistently charming and cute, but it's ultimately nothing more than a fairy tale of dreamy first love in which each shift of emotion is accompanied by yet another Canto-pop ballad. It's total escapism, and, for a movie about losing one's virginity, surprisingly chaste. Go ahead, bring the kids.
Aka Shi qi sui de tian kong.
1 + 1 = 17?
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