May 19, 2018

Runaway From Home: Looking for My Wife

Sort by "view count" for "Korean movies with English subtitles" and the two most popular YouTube videos are Healing Mate ("starring the two beautiful ladies...") and a sketchy untitled movie with a thumbnail of an Asian woman discontentedly nursing a grown man who may or may not be Korean. The first has 16 million views; the second, 14 million. I couldn't bring myself to watch either. The third most popular video with 10 million views however is definitely legit. It's the Daniel Henney vehicle Seducing Mr. Perfect , a rom-com which I've already seen, albeit years ago. What doesn't show up on that first page of search results is Runaway From Home, an absolutely delightful buddy comedy that's racked up a respectable 1.4 million views on YouTube and a less respectable 5.5 score on IMDb. Credit its visibility issues to poor tags and sloppy mislabeling — Run Away — and its low rating to poor taste in general. (Those 32 IMDb voters are hereby scolded!)

Perhaps the IMDb users simply didn't watch the entire film. Written and directed by Lee Ha, Runaway From Home may seem slight at first: Two slackers — a radio personality and a wannabe movie director — end up on a road trip when the former discovers the wife he's about to dump has already dumped him and disappeared. But where did she go? (Hence the alt title: Looking for My Wife.) The flummoxed husband (Ji Jin-hee) enlists the help of his friend (Yang Ik-joon) as the two decide to find her by tracking down her most meaningful old acquaintances sourced through an old flip-phone previously owned by the now-missing wife (Kim Gyu-ri). This device facilitates their meeting a series of zany characters including a weepy psychic (Kim Yeo-jin), a severe Ponzi-schemer (Ok Go-woon), and a pickpocket brother-in-law (Lee Mun-shik). Each new encounter leads the two pals to learn a little more about themselves and deepen their shared commitment to each other. In true Korean movie fashion, the Hollywood ending never occurs. What does instead is incredibly moving and makes Runaway From Home a runaway favorite for me.

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