Comparison of the good, the bad, and the ugly of Korean Comedies
Comedy is an art form. What one person finds funny another might find boring or sickened. For example, my husband likes Sasha Baron Cohen films. I do not. I find them repulsive. However, we can both agree that we find Grandma’s Boy very funny.
A great comedy movie has the same requirements that make any movie great: a good story, script, character and actors. However, you also need timing and things to which you can relate. In the end , despite any outlandish behavior, there are human qualities that make it easier to identify with the movie and it’s characters.
My Sassy Girlfriend (2000)
My Sassy Girlfriend is about a headstrong girl who is suffering the loss of her beloved boyfriend. It’s the anniversary of his death, and she’s gone and gotten drunk. In steps Gyeon Woo (Chae Tae Hyun) to save the day. However, his initial act of kindness leads him into further unfortunate and funny circumstances like going to jail twice and being threatened at gun point by a deserter. My Sassy Girlfriend is a different kind of romantic comedy. It takes two people who need to grow, places them in awkward yet plausible situations.
Crazy First Love (2003)
Son Tae-il and Yu Il-mae grew up together. While Yu Il-mae is a serious and dedicated student, Son Tae-il is a deliquent. Despite an incredible IQ of 148, Tae-il is only interested in claiming Il-mae as his own and marrying her. The movie revolves around Son Tae-il’s efforts to land Yu Il-mae’s hand while Yu Il-mae’s father, a teacher at Son Tae-il’s school, tries to keep him on the right path toward college. Il-mae’s father comes up with various scenarios to keep Son Tae-il advancing in life until he thinks the pair belong together (Alternative thought: Sometimes I really think the father wants to be with Tae-il, however, I have heard that while male and female PDA is not seen a lot, you will see a lot of PDA (as in friendships, bonds, etc.) between friends of the same sex).
Battle of the Comedies
Chae Tae Hyun stars in both romantic comedies. However, despite his expressive body language and voice and decent acting talent, it isn’t enough to salvage Crazy First Love. My Sassy Girlfriend is the best thing I have seen him in so far. His expressions and body gags are not over-the-top in My Sassy Girlfriend. Conversely, in Crazy First Love, he acts too extreme. I think it is honestly to cover up how thin of a plot this movie has. Usually, in a Korean Comedy there is one loud-mouth character, who makes a lot of noise but is usually somewhat likeable. Chae Tae Hyun plays Son Tae-il and Son Tae-il is as much of a loud mouth as he is a whiner. He spends most of the movie whining. The movie takes so long to resolve the connection between Son Tae-il and Yu Il-mae that when they do get together, you just don’t really care that much. You are breathing a sigh of a relief that is over.
My Sassy Girlfriend is a cute and silly romantic comedy that never seems to lose its edge. Chae Tae Hyun and Jeon Hyun’s acting and characters are grounded in everyday Korean life and pop culture unlike the over exaggerated and flamboyant characters of My Crazy First Love. My Sassy Girlfriend humor hits its mark and it doesn’t try to throw in stupid sex jokes or stupid humor as seen in My Crazy First Love (i.e. excessive whining, ddong chim (poop needle), male-on-male crotch grabbing, etc.).
My Sassy Girlfriend has a solid story and good pacing. My Crazy First Love suffers with it’s pacing and there is a disjointed. My Sassy Girlfriend is a lengthy film but if offers up different sequences, pacing, character progression, etc. My Crazy First Love is full of excessive crying and whining by characters, has hackneyed pacing, a lack of significant character progression, and is toooo long.
The only interesting thing about My Crazy First Love is Chae Tae Hyun’s characters bond with his teacher, the father of Yu Il-mae. However, this hampered by the contrived marriage plot and the worse offender, the thrown-in and somewhat random terminal illness. The film is off the rails and is quite crazy itself.
Between the two films, My Sassy Girlfriend is the way to do comedy. It’s funny and sweet-yet-not-overbearing and has a nice love twist.
- Crazy First Love ** 1/2 out of 5 Stars
- My Sassy Girlfriend **** 1/2 out of 5 Stars