February 2, 2015

Happy End: Daddy Needs a Life More Than a Job

When actor Choi Min-sik is good, he's very, very good (Oldboy, Crying Fist, I Saw the Devil). But when he's bad, he's actually pretty bad. Happy End may show Choi at his worst. Playing a blubbering househusband unwilling to assume the domestic duties after he loses his job — and his wife (Jeon Do-yeon) becomes the checkbook — Choi's Seo Min-ki is the embodiment of male prerogative. He believes, he has every right to spend his days reading romances at the local bookstore then jabbering about a soap opera with a lady neighbor all night long on the phone, even when the baby's crying, the kettle's boiling and his wife's catching up on paperwork. He doesn't care if the Mrs. is overextended. He's too busy feeling sorry for himself.

You can imagine Mr. Sulky-pants is going to get a lot sulkier when he learns that his wife isn't just clocking extra hours at the job. She's also working off some stress in the bed of a former beau (Ju Jin-mo) who as she says herself, her nails digging into his back and butt, has "a fantastic body." (Or something like that.) She may be living a life of deception but truer words were never spoken. Plus, since this hottie is the director of the website where she works, we know the dude's got computer skills, too. Is divorce an irrational next step?

That's not the story that writer-director Jung Ji-woo has scripted, though. You see, Mrs. Seo is committed both to her marriage and getting banged. Even if that means doping her baby to go on a bender. Maybe that's what happens for the respectable bourgeoisie who hold family above all. But if respect is the be-all, end-all, then Mr. Seo is going to end-all to be-all in the end. The murderous plot he concocts registers with this viewer as completely implausible and unlikely to fool a trained detective. But said viewer wanted to see Mr. Seo put away for life for the crime of whining. Surely, there must be some country that outlaws self-pity.

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