A Feast of Fun
Kung Sang (Benedict Wong) and his two children are one of a small group of refugees given a plot on an allotment to try and help them feel part of the community. Unfortunately there are those on the allotment, such as former cop Big John (Philip Jackson), who is not overly happy about this development and as Big John in chairman of the allotment committee plans to make things difficult for them. It is something he is good at as he is always belittling his son Little John (Eddie Marsan). But matters are made all the more complicated by Carla (Sarah Hadland) who represents a mobile phone company which plans to put up a mast on one of the plots.
"Grow Your Own" may last only 101 minutes but it has everything and that includes the proverbial kitchen sink where one of the quirky gardeners makes a cup of coffee using hot water straight from a tap rather than boiling a kettle. But the culinary skills of these folk who work the allotment is not the focus of the movie and in truth there isn't one focus as what we have here is the allotment being the place where various dramas go on from Big John's bullying of others to Little John being attracted to Miriam, a refugee with a son, whilst Alice who works on the allotment has a crush on Little John. There are literally a dozen or more stories going on in "Grow Your Own" although the strongest is that surrounding Kung Sang who doesn't speak, his children care for him and he is wracked with guilt over what happened which in turn lead them to flee China in one of those big shipping containers.
All of these stories come to life because "Grow Your Own" is one of those wonderful British comedies which have fun with characters and their peculiarities. As such we have Little John who hasn't really got a clue when it comes to women so starts wearing bring flowery shirts, we have Charlie and Eddie who in typical fashion make racist remarks but end up being friends with those they offend. I could go on but quite simply "Grow Your Own" has this wonderful cast of actors who are brilliant at playing certain characters. as such Philip Jackson, Alan Williams and Olivia Colman all deliver the comedy goods.
But there is one performance in "Grow Your Own" which stands out and which will draw you in and that is Benedict Wong as Kung Sang. From the way he looks and moves to the fear he emotes from his eyes you get a real sense that this is a man with a past which has left him severely traumatised especially when we see his reaction to a shipping container which is kept on the allotments. And when we do see him start to come out of his shell in a slow way it is beautiful especially in the friendship which he forms in doing so.
What this all boils down to is "Grow Your Own" is for the most an enjoyable and pretty typical British comedy with a nice range of amusing characters. But it is really the performance of Benedict Wong which gives the movie an extra layer of emotion and depth.