Movie Review: Why Am I Doing This?

"Why Am I Doing This?" trailer from Tom Huang on Vimeo.

Ever stop for a moment, reflect on your life and think to yourself, "Why am I doing this?"

That's the question all actors ask themselves when times are tough, when good roles are hard to come by. It's the question the movie Why Am I Doing This? is supposed to answer, but never does:

"Tony Chang (played by movie's writer and director Tom Huang) is a struggling Asian American actor who can only gets auditions for parts as Chinese delivery boys or sushi chefs with bad accents. He loves acting, but everywhere he turns seems to be a dead end for his career.

"Tony works multiple jobs to pay the bills, one of them being Spider-Man for kids’ parties. At one of the parties, he falls for a girl in a Pink Bear costume, Katie (Lynn Chen), later trying to establish a relationship with her.

"Tony’s best friend and roommate, Lester Niles (Anthony Montgomery), is a struggling African-American stand-up comedian who’s trying to make it doing comedy showcases and open mikes while working a day job as one of the most hated men in Los Angeles… a meter maid. His stand-up is purely observational and political, with a straight-up style like Jon Stewart or Seinfeld.

"Unfortunately, it seems like everyone in the industry, as well as his half-brother and manager Kenny (Joe Torry), want him to be the next Martin Lawrence, and push him to do angrier, edgier kind of material. Lester doesn’t know what to think anymore… should he be himself and keep struggling, or does he have to change who he is to make it?"

For an indie production, the film has a number of recognizable faces in small supporting roles: Tamlyn Tomita, James Kyson Lee and Clyde Kusatsu just to name a few.

The film has it's moments. There's a funny scene when all of the attractive women in Tony's life decide to visit him at his apartment while he's with his girlfriend Katie.

The standout performance is from Lynn Chen. If you can develop chemistry with another actor in a pink bear outfit, then you're damn good.

But as a comedy on the trials and tribulations of actors of color, this movie ultimately fails. The jokes fall flat, and there were very few laughs. There were far too many characters with far too many subplots. If the movie had simply concentrated on the main characters and story lines, the movie would have come out a lot better.

Nevertheless, writer and director Tom Huang shows promise. An actor must act. If you don't get the role you want, then you got to create it yourself.

"Why Am I Doing This?" is available at Amazon, Walmart and Target.

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