Despite the dive that his films have taken in recent years in regards to the quality of their comedic novelty, the prominence of Ahmed Helmy as a distinguished comedic figure has quite remained intact, bolstered by the myriad of peerless performances that he has under his belt. After an 8-year streak of not-so-good films, Helmy’s renown became the sole factor that kept spurring the audience to attend his ensuing films, longing for the comeback of their beloved comedian. As he aims to revive the tenor of his earlier work, this Eid marked the release of Helmy’s latest flick, Khayal Ma’ata, 3 years after he last appeared on the big screen in Laff W Dawaran.
Trailing the secret life of a criminal entity back in the sixties, Khayal Ma’ata is centered on the stingy affluent old Yakan, who, after concocting and pulling off an unusual thievery in his prime, becomes forced to reenact the proceedings of the heist 50 years after it took place to lay hands on crucial information. To do this, Yakan seeks the help of his grandson Aziz, who turns a blind eye to his disputes with Yakan as he teams up with him, aiming to right the wrongs of his grandfather’s life on their quest for reconciliation.
Due to the belated announcements regarding the release of Khayal Ma’ata and the long-delayed news of the completion of its production, the film wasn’t expected to partake in the cinematic marathon of Eid El-Adha. Given that the release dates and trailers of all its contenders were released a few weeks prior to the commencement of Eid, it was clear that the producers were in a rush to wrap up production before the season kicks off, which had the film’s trailer drop online only 2 days before Eid El-Adha. Also, such rashness had the film miss out on the screenings of the first day of Eid, debuting in cinemas on Eid’s second day. Sadly, this clutter was made evident throughout the film, and its repercussions has impacted the artistic aspects via the story’s mediocrity, the tedious progression of the plot, the lack of a contrived scheme for engendering laughter, the abrupt montage cuts and even the poor credits reel, which plainly comprised white text on black background.
Although he intended to make amends with his audience with Khayal Ma’ata, this film really did a number on Helmy’s artistic eminence amongst his fellow Egyptian comedians as it constitutes his poorest work since 2011’s X-Large. Unfortunately, the film falls short of all expectations on the comedic and dramatic aspects for it takes its best shot at fleshing out comedy through several known-by-heart practices from the early 2000s. Such approaches relied on feeble jokes and futile yells as well as uttering wrongs words at the wrong time and making fun of names and English terms. Such amusing-at-the-time oldie gimmicks infused the timeline as the filmmakers’ way of lightening up the atmospheres, but all it attained from the audience was a couple of chuckles during its 100-minute runtime. Also, and to our utmost surprise, it was Bayoumi Fouad along with the secondary actors who have educed these fainted giggles, and not Ahmed Helmy, whose role has wreaked havoc on his comedic presence. It was a colossal letdown.
On a similar note, things only got worse when drama was introduced into the plot of the film due to its utter inadequacy to the nature of the story that it felt imposed on the already-absurd proceedings. Additionally, the film lacked proper character development, so we were impeded from feeling for the protagonist or any character for that matter, which had the film imbibe more entanglements. Opting for acquiring the childish premise of Khayal Ma’ata a dramatic layer was surely another major setback that has taken a toll on the whole project.
In regards to the acting performances, nothing was quite remarkable except for the slight diligence of Ahmed Helmy as he embodied the elderly Yakan. But then again, comedies are expected to amuse the viewers, given that laughter is the absolute crux of this genre. Consequently, the distinction of any other artistic aspect in the project would surely be a plus, but in the absence of comedy, nothing would really be able to stand out or embellish the experience. Similarly, the dialogue wasn’t any better. At most intervals, it was so conventional and foreseeable that it didn’t pave the way for the consummate cast to unleash their dexterities. Oftentimes, the dialogue felt like it was made of poor improvisations that have just popped up on set and for the film to catch up with the premieres of Eid El-Adha, these lines weren’t revised and such scenes weren’t amended. Again, the letdown was colossal.
Khayal Ma’ata is an utterly disappointing experience. It’s inferior to all its contenders this Eid, and it might be the straw the breaks the camel’s back for the fans of Ahmed Helmy, whose lovable spontaneity and innovative comedic notions used to work its magic back in the day, setting his movies apart during the 2000s. Frankly, it’s quite tragic to eye the downfall of such a superstar, but hopefully things would take a turn for the better for Helmy in the coming years when he opts for better parts in his impending projects.