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Oh! My God

Shin Yi and Choi Sung-Kook in Oh! My God.
Year: 2006
Director: Kim Jeong-Woo
  Writer: Kim Jeong-Woo, Kim Wook, Lee Hyeon-Cheol
  Cast: Choi Sung-Kook, Shin Yi, Baek Il-Seop, Park Won-Sook, Park Jun-Gyu, Kim Soo-Mi, Lee Won-Jong
  The Skinny: A tough-as-nails prosecutor sets her sights on a callous, immature playboy, who just so happens to be the father of her twins in this romantic comedy from writer/director Kim Jeong-Woo. With such a creaky premise, Oh! My God has no right being as good as it is. Surprisingly, it's a genuinely hilarious affair from start to finish.
Review by Calvin McMillin:      In 2006's Oh! My God!, two actors who normally take on supporting roles, Choi Sung-Kook and Shin Yi, are finally given the chance to shine as lead performers. And shine they do in this riotously funny, strangely endearing starring vehicle. Thanks to their comic timing, not to mention their rubbery (surgically altered?) facial features, these two look like cartoon characters come to life. Although the film seems at first to be purely formulaic - it is, after all, the umpteenth variation on the Taming of the Shrew, only with the genders reversed - there are numerous comedic digressions that make Oh! My God! a surprisingly worthwhile viewing experience.
     The film kicks off with a bunch of college students enjoying some sun by the lake. Eun-Joo (Shin Yi), the ugly duckling of the group, resents the fact that the men are ogling the other girls, so she decides to jump in the lake and feign drowning in the hopes that someone will save her. Unfortunately, she slips and almost drowns for real. Although his real intentions are unknown at the time, a young man named Jung-Hwan (Choi Sung-Kook) comes to her rescue in full, slo-mo Baywatch glory, an act which will have consequences for both their lives. Eun-Joo immediately develops a crush on Jung-Hwan, and vows to make him her man. The film then picks up a bit later to find Jung-Hwan serving in the military. One day, he is both surprised and excited to learn that a young woman has come to visit him. He is brutally disappointed, however, to learn that his visitor is none other than a gaudily-dressed Eun-Joo. Even so, he accepts her invitation, and she takes him out for dinner, gets him drunk, and wouldn't you know it? One thing leads to another, and the two of them spend the night together.
     The film flashes forward and we find that Jung-Hwan is living the high life, but is still nowhere near graduation after almost a decade in college. To his parents' dismay, he continues to live a freewheeling playboy existence, jumping from girl to girl and spending all their money in the process. Meanwhile, Eun-Joo (Shin Yi) has matured considerably and now works as a prosecutor. She's an attractive, tough, and utterly self-sufficient gal, but when she finally crosses paths with Jung-Hwan again, she reveals her secret: that she became pregnant with twins after their one night stand together! With her twins now born, she insinuates herself into Jung-Hwan's life, much to his horror. His parents take a liking to Eun-Joo and force their son to marry, but even after giving in to their wishes, he resists the unlikely match at every turn. Patient, smart, and endearingly stubborn, Eun-Joo decides to take some desperate measures to finally make Jung-Hwan grow up, take responsibility, and finally see the light - to great comic effect. Meanwhile, Eun-Joo's job as a prosecutor soon entwines with her personal life when the gangsters she's after come for her family in a slam-bang, My Wife is a Gangster-type ending, albeit one played purely for laughs.
     What's perhaps most funny about the film is the portrayal of Jung-Hwan and how quickly he devolves from cool bachelor to goofy, aging hipster. In order for a movie of this kind to work, it's got to walk a tightrope. On one hand, a character like Jung-Hwan has got to come across as incorrigible. But there's also got to be something vaguely redeeming about him to make audiences like him enough to want to see him clean up his act. Surprisingly, when it comes to Jung-Hwan's treatment of his parents and Eun-Joo, he is terribly unlikable. It's not just garden variety hijinks; he's a real jerk. The film balances the equation, by making Jung-Hwan an amusing, Jim Carrey-esque character when he's on his own, or when he's palling around with his good friend, Chil-Gu (Baek Il-Seop). And it's his genuine friendship with Chil-Gu that gives his character a redeeming quality.
In fact, Baek Il-Seop nearly steals the show as the dunderheaded best friend. In addition to the main plot, these two get into all sorts of trouble - including both a fake and a real kidnapping --0 which makes for numerous comic situations. The chemistry between the two enlivens the film considerably. Whether it's the scene where they're mistaken as feuding gay lovers or the extended training montage in which they attempt to shape up to become organ donors, pretty much every scene with the duo is pure comedy gold.
In terms of plot execution, Oh! My God! works rather well, in spite of how ill-advised the pairing of the two characters initially seems. Aside from traditional notions of family and responsibility, there's little impetus for Jung-Hwan and Eun-Joo to get together at the beginning of the film - she's so accomplished, yet he's a despicable failure. But somehow, the filmmakers construct the narrative in such a way that her complete faith in him and his eventual transformation come across as totally believable, despite ample evidence to the contrary. Although there are plenty of bland, unfunny Korean comedies out there, Oh! My God! isn't one of them. All in all, it's a refreshing laughfest that surprised even me. (Calvin McMillin, 2006)
Availability: DVD (Korea)
Region 3 NTSC
16 x 9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Korean Language Track
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable Korean and English Subtitles
Audio Commentary, "Making Of" Documentary, "Behind the Scenes" Featurettes, Outtakes, Music Video, Trailer
   Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen