When Larry Met Mary is the new romantic comedy by actor-turned-director Wen Zhang. It revolves around the lives of two childhood sweethearts, Larry (played by Bao Bei’er), and Mary (played by Song Jia). Bao Bei’er is the hopelessly devoted Larry, who has spent his entire adult life trying to please Song Jia’s cooler-than-thou Mary, whose penchant for anyone but Larry is what keeps them apart.
Bei’er’s memorable turn as Larry kept this film on its feet. Bei’er’s adeptness at physical humour shines, in particular his gag-worthy facial expressions. His earnest and humble portrayal of Larry’s love for Mary is perhaps the only stable theme that runs throughout the movie, giving it some much needed continuity. Meanwhile, Song Jia is positively unremarkable as Mary to Bei’er’s Larry. She alternates between phases of stoic beauty and tomboyishness, both of which missed the mark. Song Jia’s attempts to assume Mary’s cool façade were simply wooden, while her camaraderie with Larry came off as brash and testy. Such inconsistencies made Mary an opaque and unlikable character, one that was unable to complement Larry to any great effect.
In many ways this film’s plot wears thin – it attempts to embody the classic ‘boy meets girl’ movie, as well as the ‘childhood sweetheart’ movie, in addition to the ‘unrequited love’ movie, all rolled up into 2 hours. Wen Zhang, the film’s newbie director, does little to keep it from straining at the seams. In a bizarre attempt to cover all the bases, the film skips back and forth frenetically between childhood, young adulthood and the present without notice. The result is an unreliable narrative that unreels disparate scenes left and right, leaving the audience to clutch at the pieces