It’s never too late to make amends or new memories together. In The Kid From The Big Apple 2: Before We Forget (TKFTBA2), we are reunited with the lovable Grandpa (Ti Lung) and his New York-born granddaughter Sarah (Tan Qin Lin).
In the first movie, the two got off to a rough start in a classic old school versus new school setting. Grandpa is too traditional with his fondness for chicken feet while Sarah prefers poultry in the form of fried nuggets. Eventually, they overcome their differences to become the best of friends. Nothing could come between these two, not even when Sarah has to go back to New York for school.
Unfortunately, there’s dementia. Sarah has to accept that her grandfather is losing his memories and she will eventually become a stranger to him.
TKFTBA2 tries to tell a delicate story about dementia by pressing on hope. We see a family preparing for a life with dementia instead of dwelling on the sadness that is to come.
Though we see heartbreaking scenes like Grandpa not remembering how to go home after he sneaked out to buy mooncakes, we never see Sarah or her mother Sophia (Debbie Goh) breaking down. Director Jess Teong somehow manages to deliver a story that dignifies Grandpa instead of letting audiences see him become a shell of his former self.
Credit also goes to Tan who plays 12-year-old Sarah. She is the ray of sunshine throughout what could have been a depressing movie as her character comes up with a myriad of ways to boost Grandpa’s memories.
Strangely, Sarah also never reacted negatively to her father (Shaun Tan) who is introduced for the first time in this movie. If you can’t recall, Sophia was pregnant when Sarah’s father abandoned her in New York. Whatever is fuelling this kid’s positive mindset, we could all use some of it.
That being said, TKFTBA2 also uses Grandpa’s dementia as a reason for Sophia to think about reconciling with her useless ex-boyfriend. Grandpa’s excuse was that he wants Sophia and Sarah to be a part of a complete family and I guess, he couldn’t think of anyone else to take on the role of a father figure.
As you would have guessed, TKFTBA2 focuses on heavier family issues this time around. There is more character development on Sophia the mum as she deals with father’s deteriorating memories and sort out her emotional past with the ex-boyfriend.
TKFTBA2 could have been a more memorable movie if it didn’t have to resort to one too many montages with different songs for its story to move along. A little bit more conversation would have been better for the viewers to feel the movie’s emotional impact. But alas, we have to be content with somewhat cheesy snippets of smiles and laughter through a number of piano ballads.
Which brings us to this question… is this sequel even necessary? Sure, it’s nice to see Grandpa and Sarah together again as they take on another chapter in life. Dementia is an uncomfortable topic and this movie could spark much-needed discussions on how we, as a society, should put more care when it comes to our elders.
If you like closure, then you’d be happy to know that TKFTBA2 has that sorted out for you with the way it handles Sophia’s past. As for me, well… I guess I still have a lot of growing up to do. Somehow, all the adult drama in TKFTBA2 made me miss the charms of Sarah and her misadventures with neighbourhood kid Ah Bao. Sadly, Jason Tan who plays the scene-stealing Ah Bao has less scenes here.
But even I have to accept that playtime is over. TKFTBA2 reminds you that reality will hit you when you least expect it. People forget and memories fade but you can’t give up on those who are still there for you.
Sob, now excuse me while I try not to think about my childhood.
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The Kid From The Big Apple 2: Before We Forget
Director: Jess Teong
Cast: Ti Lung, Tan Qin Lin, Debbie Goh, Shaun Tan and Jason Tan