Wednesday, April 11, 2007

200 Pounds Beauty (Minyeo-Neun Goerowo)

Do You Think I'm Sexy?

I am not trying to sound like a pretentious fool, but seriously, I am curious how do fat people take towards the onslaught of movies taking the mickey out of the weight issue? From movies like Shallow Hal, to Eddie Murphy's Nutty Professor, The Klumps and the recent Norbit, and now, this Korean romantic-comedy 200 Pounds Beauty. You'll left to ponder, how many fat jokes are there left to tell?

200 Pounds Beauty surprisingly was entertaining. No, I wasn't referring to the quality of the fatty jokes, but rather in its premise it sets for the heroine Hanna (Kim A-jung), the titular character in question, a plus sized woman with an extremely marketable voice, who's actually employed in a ploy to be the cover singer for a talentless lass Ammy, who looks good, shakes that booty well, but just cannot sing. At night, Hanna moonlights as a chat line employee - you know, those sexy ads with pretty lasses tempting you to call them through some exorbitant pay-per-call telephone line for phone sex.

In love with Ammy's record producer Sang-joong (Joo Jin-mo), but self-conscious about her size and without the dare to admit her feelings, Hanna decides to transform herself after a turmoil of emotional upheavals, albeit with some help from plastic surgery, a full body one no less, and calls the new her Jenny. You might think that the movie is ripe for some criticism into Korea's #1 obsession amongst their womanfolk, you might want to think again. While there are moments where the characters seemingly lambast both male and female attitudes towards plastic surgery, such as low self esteem and lack of innate confidence, this is very soon forgotten when the movie stepped up a gear towards its fairy tale finale of sorts, which in an incredibly overstretched sequence, tried to elicit soppy tears from the soft hearted ones in the audience.

There are some nice, perhaps contrived even, touches built into the narrative, especially on the psychological effects on the changes that extreme plastic surgery - imagine waking up one day to find yourself a completely different person. However in general, it plays out like a fluffy romance comedy with jokes on secret identities, beauties who turn heads (heh, pun intended) and get their way in society, well balanced with dramatic moments of honouring the ties with family and friends.

Kim A-jung naturally is the star of the show, putting on the fat suit ala what Sammi Cheng did in Love on a Diet. She's naturally beautiful, with those innocent bambi-looking eyes, so it's hard for any hot blooded male out there not to fall for her charms. Also, the music added another dimension to the movie. Filled with pop tunes from the 80s and Korean tunes created for the movie (I read that the song Maria actually hit the K-pop charts), the staged musical concerts are a force to be reckoned with, especially since Kim A-jung really delved deep into the performances, and was credibly lending her own vocals to the songs. I thought at times these scenes played out similar to those in Nana, and similarly to the recent Dreamgirls, prepare for some lung bursting, loudspeaker busting singing.

Based on the Japanese manga by Suzuki Yumiko, 200 Pounds Beauty is an example of a perfect date movie, since the girls can ogle at the charmingly handsome Joo Jin-mo. With enough ups and downs and a feel good ending to boot, perhaps the messages in the movie, if there are any to be seriously taken to begin with, become diluted with the relatively long runtime of 120 minutes. The strongest message that comes out of it could probably be that reminder that you can't make everyone love you, no matter how hard you try.

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