July 27, 2009

Marrying the Mafia: Lessons in How to Be the Bride of Frankenstein

You'd think a jopok comedy that spawned a few sequels would be pretty good. And if it ended up being that year's most highly attended flick in South Korea then it would have to be really funny, too, even if the jokes were all kind of dumb, no? I mean how bad can it be? Which brings us to Jeong Heung-sun's Marrying the Mafia, a head-scratcher that is neither awful nor awesome. It's a stale confection at best, something you might call sweet but never delectable. It wouldn't merit your time at all if it weren't for actress Kim Jung-eum who plays the female lead, a mobster's daughter suddenly headed for an arranged marriage. Like a show-and-tell of extreme performance, Kim's acting is all wrongs that add up to right: As she struggles with both her white collar fiance (Jeong Jun-ho) and her three thug brothers, she overly indicates instead of acts so that perky, sad and annoyed all come across as neurotic, psychotic, and deranged. That she's surrounded by boilerplate interpretations that can be alternately harmless and charmless works to her advantage. With each glare, grin, and goofball glance, she's like the kid in class who's constantly making funny faces. You may find her irritating at first but eventually she will make you laugh.

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