Sunday, August 26, 2012

DVDebut: SUNNY, a Korean dram-com hit for the girls, kicks some mean tushie....

Think of it as maybe Beaches times 3-1/2. Instead of two best female best friends, we've got seven of 'em. And yes, we follow them from adulthood back to childhood, alternately bouncing back and forth until we pretty much get the whole story, have giggled ourselves silly, shed quite a few tears and heard some great old pop tunes from the 80s -- including, of course, that title tune and the wonderful Cyndi Lauper song Time After Time. SUNNY, the hit dram-com from Korea (it's most definitely not a rom-com: romance doesn't figure in here, as the men are mostly idle, absent or very peripheral), proves to be a surprisingly enjoyable ride. Even with all its cliches intact and its many "steals" (a Big Chill for the gals, anyone?), it's a lot more fun than the longer and much more pompous French version, Little White Lies, that opened a couple of days ago.

First time filmmaker Kang Hyoung-chul, working from a screenplay by slightly more veteran Kang Hyeong-Cheol (any relation, I wonder?) and another first-timer Lee Byung-heon, this Kang/Lee combo has come up with quite the winning ticket. Despite its just-over-two-hour length, Sunny moves quickly and in sprightly fashion toward its rather foregone conclusion. Along the way, there are enough charming or moving scenes -- both with the high-schoolers and the adult women -- to make the trip worthwhile.

An added bonus -- depending on how you look at it, at least -- is the Korean setting, which makes everything from school (above) to employment to the male of the species (below, left) to the political demonstration with which the schoolgirls get involved (in the film's funniest scene) charmingly exotic to us westerners.

When these girls were growing up, South Korea was under the thumb of a quasi-military dictatorship (I suspect many Koreans would not call this "quasi") so, while this fight-the-police scene is lots of fun and games, I shoud imagine that it must have struck a chord with Koreans not experienced by we westerners (who simply find it charming, giddy enjoyment).

One of our girls (Sim Eun-kyeong, above), a budding artist in school, seems to have given up any career aspirations by becoming a wife and mother to a noticeably unappreciative husband and child. We see her artwork at moments throughout the movie. At the film's close, do keep the DVD playing throughout the end credits to view some beautifully drawn examples of this artwork that culminate in one drawing that takes our story, in quite lovely fashion, to its ultimate conclusion.

While full of fun, humor, cliche and charm, the movie also manages to honor the verities of family, friends, life and even death. Good job, all around! Sunny, from CJ Entertainment, and a hugely popular movie in its home country, made an American DVD debut this past Tuesday, and is available for sale or rental from the usual suspects.

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