Workplace comedies have a timeless allure, captivating audiences since the early days of cinema. Classics like Charlie Chaplin’s adventures in “Modern Times” and Jacques Tati’s struggles in “Playtime” are testimonies to this allure. The universally relatable setting of offices, with their unique characters and shared objectives, forms the backbone of such narratives. The globally acclaimed series, “The Office,” in both its British and American versions, highlighted the beauty and comedy of the mundane, a setting many of us are familiar with and often wish to escape.
Taking a leaf from this genre, “Kiss My Ass Boss” emerges as a contemporary Taiwanese workplace comedy. Directed by Chu Yu-ning and inspired by the comic-book series “I’m Mark,” this film captures the essence of office life in a unique, humorous light.
The narrative revolves around Mark, portrayed by Crowd Lu Kuang-chung. He is the quintessential office worker, burdened with endless overtime at a bustling advertising agency, nearing the brink of desperation. This desperation reaches a climax as Mark contemplates ending his life, only to be interrupted by a comedic rendition of Death, depicted by the distinctively bald Yellow Huang Hsuan. However, in a surreal twist, Death, too, adheres to working hours, leaving Mark with another day of corporate chaos.
As the film progresses, the narrative turns into a cascade of comedic sketches. Mark, after wreaking havoc in his office, is comically mistaken for the owner’s progeny, resulting in an unwarranted promotion to CEO. Simultaneously, a whirlwind of corporate conspiracies threatens the company’s reputation. This roller-coaster narrative is peppered with Mark’s attempts to decipher office politics. From office veterans eyeing his position, an ambitious secretary employing her charm, to a new colleague, Emma, played by Victoria Chiang Chi, developing an unexpected affection for Mark, the film captures the labyrinthine world of workplace dynamics.
However, while the plot is rich with comedic potential, Crowd Lu Kuang-chung’s portrayal of Mark seems to be a missed opportunity. His rendition paints Mark as an exasperating, overly-dependent individual, lacking depth or appeal. This portrayal, combined with Lu’s contributions to the film’s musical score, might not resonate with all audiences. The narrative, which could be a humorous critique of the corporate grind, sometimes gives a bleak message of life being an unyielding cycle of monotonous challenges.
While “Kiss My Ass Boss” offers a fresh perspective in the realm of workplace comedies, it’s a reminder that the success of such narratives lies not just in relatable settings but in characters that evoke empathy and humor in equal measure. Potential viewers should approach with an open mind, prepared for a mix of comedy, romance, and the surreal.