Salama’s ‘Made in Egypt': Trapped in a human shell
Poster for "Made in Egypt"

CAIRO: Alaa, a careless, lazy, and unmotivated man, is the feature character of Amr Salama’s “Made in Egypt.” He owns a toy and doll shop in which he inherited from his late dad, but he is drowning in debt and distracted by a giant stuffed panda bear.

“Made in Egypt” is Salama’s fourth feature film as a director, and the first he did not write himself. The film was one of the five films released in the Eid vacation, following the month of Ramadan.

Alaa and a stuffed Panda that was delivered to his shopswitch bodies after a mild electric shock following a power cut.

Throughout the film the audience tracks the journey of both Alaa and the panda trying to get back to their own bodies, meanwhile the actual panda trapped in Alaa’s human body nearly solves most of Alaa’s problems and is, contrary to Alaa, active and motivated to help his family, the woman he loves, and brings back together his career.

The opening scene of the film was a bit awkward; the delivery of a large stuffed panda bear that looked different from the other dolls and toys in the shop did not quite make sense. A throwaway line explains it was by mistake, but there was a missing lead or more information and details needed about the bear, given that it has a character and personality in the 2nd half of the film.

Alaa’s character was given a clear background for his actions, and in the middle of the film the audience sees a defining incident with his father that may have caused his adult laziness. On the other hand, his mother and step father shared the same lazy traits, which was unexplained throughout the film and was not strongly justified.

The pace of the first half of the film was a bit slow, but after the main event occurs (the transformation) it quickly starts to solidify.

Salama in his fourth feature pays more attention to the visual style of the film, in terms of art direction, costuming, and cinematography, to the extent that the overall mood quite gives the impression that they did not fit at times with the story’s setting or characters, for example in scenes like those were taking place in an amusement park, and another one in an asylum.

Alaa’s costumes, especially before the transformation occurred, do not imply a person who is lazy, and instead presents a stylish and well-groomed man.

The final act of the film was very well put together in terms of editing and directing. It was fast-paced, sentimental, and the ending was reasonable.

The film was written by Mostafa Helmy, who previously co-wrote popular TV Series “Al Kebeer” that has aired annually in Ramadan in four parts the past years, starring Ahmed Mekky.

Well-known actor Ahmed Helmy plays the lead role of Alaa, and is joined by co-stars Yasmine Raeis, Dalal Abdel Aziz, Bayoumy Fouad, and child newcomer Nour Osman.

The panda itself was a costume worn by actor Mohamed Salam who is a professional puppeteer, Helmy voiced the character.

Overall, “Made In Egypt” is a well-crafted feel-good, entertaining family film.It’s a story about how sometimes a human being can be much less productive and inanimate than just a toy; about the actual definition of being alive.

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