After the on and off screen adrenaline rush that fueled my review of “Veteran”, I eagerly looked forward to Yoo Ah In’s next movie: “Like for Likes”. Let’s see….Yoo Ah In and Kang Ha Neul…both in a Rom-Com. How can this get messed up? Good news–it doesn’t! I’m hitting the “like” button here! No scary scenes, the ridiculous moments are kept to a bare minimum and there’s no boneheaded ending to wail over. This movie is just 2 hours of pure fun and entertainment. Okay, some thoughtful moments and a judicious serving of eye candy from Yoo Ah In doesn’t hurt either!
This time around, I didn’t get a freebie ticket, so I could choose which theater to attend. I had been hoping the brand new CGV theater that’s being built in Buena Park (about 20 minutes north of my home) would be finished by the time this movie came out, but it probably won’t be done until this summer. It’s gonna be amazing–the posh theater experience of DTLA’s Koreantown–without the brutal drive and parking issues.
The projected finished version Currently under construction
Projected finished version–inside of the theater
Hoo-boy, wonder what a ticket to the movies there will cost!?!
I decided to try a different theater from the new megaplex one in the La Habra/Fullerton area that I watched “Veteran” in. I ventured south to the city I love to hate–Irvine. The six screen theater is across the street from the University in a large, sprawling shopping center that’s been around for a long time. The upscale retail shops, restaurants and theater are surrounded by rings of perfect beige apartment buildings, all with perfect stencil-cut trees, perfect flat sidewalks, and surely inhabited by plastic perfect Ken and Barbie types who drive perfect cars or SUV’s less than 2 years old. It must be a rule–everyone there loves and follows all the rules. Okay, enough of that! Anyways, I drive down in late afternoon traffic straight from my piano lesson. Ironically, the music studio has recently moved to a new location in the much more middle-class Korean community near my home. I arrive quite early for the 6:40 pm mid-week show. That ended up being a smart move; parking spaces are at a premium, but I find a place on the outskirts of the center. I sit in my car and watch a half an episode of “Five Children”, which is turning into a guilty pleasure-watch for me. It’s really dumb, with so many annoying characters–but has just enough funny moments to appease me so far, and the show seems self-aware of its makjang elements and plays them for a laugh.
I buy my ticket ($12.25) and sit down in the theater. It’s about half the size of the theater I watched “Veteran” in–and it’s far emptier. In fact, the sum total of attendees that evening was….5. Yep, me and 4 other Korean young ladies, all under 30. That’s it. No guys. Dang. Next time I gotta go on a weekend. I love watching the audience reactions almost as much as the movie itself! Two girls came alone, and then two girls sat together across the aisle from my seat. These two came prepared, wearing the requisite local winter college uniform of hoodie sweatshirt and pajama pants with flip-flops. They even brought a lap blanket and a big bag of Gummie Bears! I did not plan ahead well today, and only brought a granola bar. I need to step up my snacking game!
After innumerable advertisements, movie trailers (which confirm why I hardly ever see any US movies) and repeated admonishments to shut the cell phone off and not talk during the movie, the movie gets started. One of the first scenes brings a barely muffled set of squeals from the Gummie Bear Girls, as Yoo Ah In looks like he just casually walked over from the Sesa Bedding shoot to the movie set.
*video courtesy of yooahinsikseekland.wordpress.com
Honest–that Sesa BTS video might just as well have been in the movie!
Shamrockmom has to readjust her bifocals and sit up a little straighter in the seat so she can get a better look. Oh my goodness! How is this guy so hot? YAI fully clothed–or completely covered from shoulders to kneecaps in a bathrobe–is far sexier than those ab-flashing guys doing pullups or whatever. It’s one thing to see him on a computer screen, or even the 50″ TV screen….but on a 20 foot movie screen it’s overload–in the best way!
It’s several moments of mental dissonance for me to watch YAI, as he plays a Top Drama Star Roh Jin Woo who had a fling with a Top Drama Producer Jo Kyung Ah (Lee Mi Yeon) before leaving for his military service. This high powered drama producer is easily 20 years older than YAI’s character! She’s successful, tough and fierce–just ask her assistant Na Yeon! Unfortunately, Kyung Ah hides the fact that she now has a toddler son from that one night with Jin Woo. This grates on my nerves, as does her persistent stubbornness when he asks who the father of her son is. She even outright lies to Jin Woo and tells him he’s not the father! WTH! I hate when women (in RL or DramaLand) hide a pregnancy from the father “to protect him” or some other such nonsense. Deception regarding a child’s parentage is never a good thing. Jin Woo was very forgiving and wanted to have a relationship with both Kyung Ah and his little son Jo Bom…even “giving it all up” as the saying goes.
Jin Woo acts like a spoiled Top Star, but it’s not too overdone. Is YAI “playing himself” in this movie? Or is it a parody of himself? Inquiring minds want to know! The Laneige CF shoot scenes (awesome PPL!) are so spot-on, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them used in a real advertisement. Side note–Laneige is available at Target now; I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. Let me know what you think in the comments!
The scenes toward the end of the movie where Jin Woo is playing with his toddler son Jo Bom gives me goosebumps. He looks very comfortable and natural, almost joyful as they play together. This messes with my SLA FF writer’s brain. Is this what it would have looked like if Seon Jae and Hye Won had a child together? I can’t help but wonder….
The next couple is Choi Ji Woo and Kim Ju Hyeok. She plays Joo Ran, a stewardess and he plays Sung Chan, a local chef. Sung Chan gets dumped by his fiancee after putting down a deposit on an apartment and Joo Ran needs a place to live…so they decide to live together ‘like brother and sister’. Heh. This oughta be good. Let the sparks fly! They cutely get on each others’ nerves, just like any two people would who live together. He takes photos as if she was taking selfies and helps her build a Facebook profile. She wants to attract a younger, cutie-pie doctor. Is that young doctor Ha Seok Jin, the second lead doc who goes blind from “D-Day”? Not 100% sure. (Note: The cutie-pie doc also gets some squeals from the Gummie Bear Girls, but much less than YAI.) Sung Chan soon falls in love with Joo Ran as they do all kinds of fun activities to make her social profile look interesting to the doctor. They are very believable and their kiss scene is slightly awkward–but fits them perfectly. There’s a foot rub scene between them that makes me blush. 🙂 Joo Ran also does a great dance number at a norebang. I think I’ve seen this somewhere else before! If you loved CJW’s character No Ra in “Twenty Again”, you will love her character in this movie. This couple has a wonderful down-to-earth story. I think it could have been developed into a full movie by itself.
The third couple is Kang Ha Neul and Lee Som. He plays Soo Ho, a music composer who is
going deaf after an accident in high school, and she plays Na Yeon, who works for Kyung Ah, the producer lady that Jin Woo knows. Soo Ho tries to hide the fact that he is deaf from Na Yeon, which doesn’t work too well. It puts a lump in my throat to see Soo Ho wearing earbuds–like he’s listening to music–to cover the fact that he’s deaf and needs to lip-read. He writes the lyrics and the melodies of several romantic songs Na Yeon likes from her favorite group. You might wonder: How can he compose music when he is deaf? Well, check out this excellent Ted Ed program on how Beethoven composed his works while going deaf–by using math. It’s the best 4 minute Music Theory class you will ever have:
Sadly, KHN earns no squeals from the Gummie Bear Girls. Hey! He’s pretty cute too, yunno! If you loved KHN’s younger version of Dong Joo in “Angel Eyes”, you will love him in this movie even more. The movie even recycles the bungee jump scene from “Angel Eyes” –but this time KHN can’t hear Lee Som scream! Just kidding! Looks like KHN overcame his fear of bungee jumping too! Just like in “Angel Eyes”, KHN nails this role. And he can really cry too. He’s such a talented actor. KHN is also in another movie “Dong Ju: Portrait of a Poet” that is out now…but since it’s not a CJ E&M movie, chances of it being subbed and playing locally are probably zero. It looks really sad though, and I know I won’t be able to handle any scary/intense/violent scenes, so it’s probably for the best. Side note–KHN’s large teeth are fascinating to a dental person like me. I want to meet his dentist and orthodontist and shake their hands. He’s had to have some A+ level work done.
One big complaint I have about the movie is the subs. I think CJ E&M hired the DramaFever subbers, because they can’t sub words like “hyung”! They also change the name of the little boy to “EJ”, because they obviously think English-speakers can’t deal with a name like Eui Joo. Even stranger: the subbers sub another name as “Jo Spring” which is technically correct since I can hear “Jo Bom” and ‘Bom’ is the translation for ‘spring’, but it needs to stay as it’s pronounced. OMG. I wish there was a “dislike” button for the subs. Dear DF/CJ subbers: Please don’t dumb down the subs. Add in one explanation the first time “hyung” or some other family terminology appears in the script if you absolutely must, but give your English-speaking, Korean-drama loving patrons the benefit of the doubt. Names are important, but terms like “unnie”, “oppa”, “sunbae”, and “hyung” are equally important. You might be surprised at how much of the Korean language we understand after years and years of watching TV dramas! Your viewers are intelligent–so keep the character’s names as they are and quit overtranslating them.
There’s some fun PPL and meta in this movie too, especially if you follow the Korean entertainment scene even slightly. Apple iPhones are prominently featured, which I find interesting–no Samsung or LG phones shown. Even CJ E&M makes sure its logo is prominently displayed in a couple of scenes toward the end of the movie. Talk about overkill!
The whole deal about the movie and it’s connection to Facebook is really not important in the big scheme of things. Like everyone else in today’s world, the characters post their life events (both big and small) to social media sites, and text each other on the phone all the time. The movie does a great job on focusing on the relationships between the couples; and as a minor note, between all of them as friends. For whatever glamorous careers the characters have, without money worries or major family issues to deal with, they all have the normal insecurities that pretty much plague everyone who is past the age of puberty. Questions like, “Should I risk my heart and love this person?” or “Am I worthy to be loved?” are timeless and universal. The wheel doesn’t need to be reinvented. There’s no new ground broken in this film or some lofty ideal exalted. Even though I think this movie could have been called “I Like Recycling”, I’m fine with it. It’s fun when a show/movie does things a little differently, and uses some creativity to make the same old plotlines seem fresh.
During the movie, I kept thinking about this quote from Ahn Pan Seok, the PD of Secret Love Affair and Heard it Through the Grapevine: “In truth, it is not easy for a man and woman to have their first physical encounter….Even among lovers, it is not something that works all the time. Whether we know it or not, it happens at that very moment when the world around you helps you along. Even the inanimate objects have to help you. It is that difficult.” In RL, I think it is a minor miracle that two people can get together and have a relationship, even with the best of circumstances. Longtime readers know that my mom committed suicide back in early May of 2014. Understatement of the year: My dad did not do well without her. They were married for almost 52 years. However, he met and now has married a lovely lady who puts up with him! That’s a miracle right there! I’m so happy for them both. He’s 78 and she’s 68. They are both in good health; I hope they have many wonderful years ahead.
This would be a perfect movie to introduce a person who has never seen a Kdrama or Kmovie to the world we already know. There’s almost no cultural issues to explain. There are no violent or scary scenes. The romantic scenes are ones you could watch with either your parents or your kids in the room, and not cringe in embarrassment. It has a NR (Not Rated) rating, but I would classify it as a mild PG. It’s very suitable for teens. In fact, it might be a good discussion point movie about the difficulty of romantic relationships. I think this is a movie that could make US audiences hit the “like” button, if they could get past the subtitles and the fact that the movie is not made in Hollywood. I hope that if you are in one of the cities that “Like for Likes” is playing that you get out and see it ASAP.