“Hi Mom” brings laughter and tears to a large audience

The official poster for

Beijing Jingxi Culture & Tourism Co., Ltd.

The official poster for “Hi Mom”, a dramatic comedy that has set box office records in China, starring Jia Ling, Shen Teng, Chen He, and Zhang Xiaofei

Erma Bombeck once said, “there is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt”.

In the movie “Hi, Mom” directed by Chinese director Ling Jia, that thin line between comedy and tragedy is broken in the last 30 minutes of the movie, letting the laughter of the audience suddenly froze and was replaced by tears running down their faces. 

Ling is a famous comedian who tried directing for the first time with “Hi, Mom”, a movie based on the real story of Jia Ling to memorialize her mom who died when Jia Ling was only 19 years old. It ran in every theater in China on the first day of the Lunar New Year and broke a sales record by generating 677 million dollars in 21 days. This makes it both on of China’s most successful films and one of the most successful non-English language movies of all time. 

The movie follows the protagonist, Xiaoling Jia, as she magically travels back to the youth of her mom, Huanying Li, on the day her mom died. So, like in Back to the Future, she gets to talk to her mom before she was born. 

The first half of the movie showcases the strong comedic skills of the director Ling Jia and brought bursts of laughter at the theaters when the protagonist Xiaoling Jia helped her mom to change things her mom had regrets about in the future, like getting the first television in their community, winning a volleyball tournament, dating the most rich and popular guy and so on.

When the joyful story was approaching to the end, where Xiaoling Jia found out her mom never really cared about the “regrets” she thought her mom did, and her mom was satisfied throughout her whole life, she was going to happily return to the present. 

A promotional poster showing a scene from the past in the mother’s younger life (photo Beijing Jingxi Culture & Tourism Co., Ltd.)

However, at this point, Xiaoling looked at her ripped jeans that were sewn by her mom perfectly, and suddenly realized her mom only learned to sew after Xiaoling was born.

At that moment, both Xiaoling and the audience realized she was not the only person who got to travel back to the time. A series of flashbacks was then put on the screen, and every joyful moment became sad when we all knew the reason why her mom was smiling all the time during the past they traveled was not her return to her youth, but she was sharing her youth, and meanwhile the very last moments of her life together with her daughter. 

In lots of people’s memories, “mom” is always in the figure of a middle aged woman who did the house chores and busy around her children, however, she was once a young girl as well, and had her dreams, laughs, and tears too.

“Hi, Mom” shows the perfect dream of a self doubting child who thought she disappointed her mom by being unsuccessful. Lots of people might share similar thoughts sometimes, but life is not a movie and we cannot go back to the past. However, “Hi, Mom” told us how maternal love can be a special case, as for lots of moms, disappointment is such a tiny thing compared to the happiness of their children. 

Beyond the laughter and joy “Hi, Mom” bringsto the audience, a deeper message is the reminder that do not be trapped by the seemingly tediousness of life and the worries which blind us, what is really worth seeing and cherishing is the love around us, and don’t let the time we can spent with our families slip away when we still have the chance to share time with them.