Verdict - This action-comedy is better at comedy but not too bad at action. I laughed a lot.
Pattathu Yaanai is an action-comedy at heart where momentary spurts of action are just a relief from what would have otherwise been a full-fledged comedy. The film makes more sense when you look at it as a comedy about the exploits of a bunch of wedding caterers who run from trouble and arrive in Tiruchy- only to find more trouble. But because of the film's "mass entertainer" aspirations, it brings in utterly unnecessary characters, like the heroine, who adds no value to the story, besides being heavily detrimental. In spite of it, the film still manages to entertain and how- thanks to the one man who has been consistently delivering time and again: Santhanam.
There are just three fight scenes and the film slowly leads up to the first two with commendable control. The first fight comes right before the end of first half- at a point where you really don't mind seeing some bad guys get whooped. I feared the second half would open to a very boring and totally redundant backstory. My fears came true, but only partially. While there was indeed a backstory which was unnecessary to a large extent, it was also surprisingly involving. I was actually hooked and wanted to know what happened next. After a woman gets raped and a child gets killed, a space got opened wide for some serious justice. This made the second fight sequence work big time.
Pattathu Yaanai is a dozen times more fun and interesting that Singam 2. I feel compelled to raise this comparison because a) Singam 2 did not deserved to make as much money as it has did, and b) both the films have no dearth for villains. But the difference is that the ones in this film are far more memorable than the ones in the latter. It is also exactly the kind of movie that could have easily fallen under the "masala done right" category. But the central story eventually took a step back and comedy took the centerstage. The humor now started seeping into scenes involving the villains as well. This is not a complaint, as this move actually helped the film a lot. The film understands that its strength lies in comedy and uses it to maximum potential. It is wise enough to not take its story too seriously and mull too long over the climax -quickly wrapping the final fight to make way for the actual ending - the one involving Santhanam.
The film's weakest link is the female lead character, played by Arjun's daughter. Her arching eyebrows reach for the skies in each one of her limited range of expressions. In all fairness to her, it is a completely useless role; but that doesn't change the fact that it was very unimpressively portrayed by the newcomer. Vishal did good and showed much restraint as the reluctant hero who is happy to run away from a fight.
I have to commend Bhoopathy Pandian for what he does with the character played by Santhanam. I have not found Santhanam more funnier than this in any movie before. He actually gives a very good performance. Nandu Jagan hasn't much to do, but John Vijay and a few other actors keep the laughs coming. There was one moment where I was literally howling with laughter- tears rolling out of my eyes. I may have underestimated the film, but it is still good enough to entertain you- immaterial of your expectations. If you had told me this morning that I was going to enjoy Pattathu Yaanai as much as I did, I wouldn't have believed you. I laughed a lot more than I am willing to confess.