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Swindler in My Mom's House
AKA: The Houseguest and My Mother

Swindler in My Mom's House
Ko Eun-Ah, Jung Jun-Ho, and Kim Won-Hee

Year: 2007

Im Young-Sung


Bae Se-Yung, Im Young-Sung

  Cast: Jung Jun-Ho, Kim Won-Hee, Ko Eun-Ah, Im Hyung-Joon, Lee Do-Ryun, Kim Jee-Yung
  The Skinny: A lighthearted affair all the way, this Korean comedy does have a few clever spots. But it's too silly and possesses too many elements that don't pay off to be taken seriously.
Kevin Ma:

     Korea joins the remake fever with Swindler in My Mom's House, a silly comedy that doesn't seem to be anything like the original. While the 1961 film Mother and A Guest is a melodramatic romance that was a classic of its time, Im Young-Sung's "remake" is a lighthearted affair all the way, with small town hooligans, a swindler with a heart of gold, and a silly mother and daughter pair. In fact, this 2007 comedy seems so different that might be useless to even judge it as a remake.
     An old lady randomly walks into a credit bureau run by Duk-Geun (Jung Jun-Ho, not playing a gangster this time) and asks him to find her granddaughter, who's been missing for 25 years. Duk-Geun is conveniently in need of money after his father was sent to prison without settling his debts, and the old lady happens to have a bag of cash. So off he goes to search of a 30-year old woman only with a picture of a 5-year old girl as reference. His search takes him to a quiet seaside town, where he stays in a guesthouse owned by 30-year old single mother Hae-Joo (Kim Won-Hee) and her 15-year old daughter Oak-Hee.
     Meanwhile, the mother and daughter have their own problems: Hae-Joo is shunned in town because of her young single mother status, and Oak-Hee is annoyed that her mother acts like her younger sister more than her mother (in other words, she's going through puberty). Just as Duk-Geun decides to give up on the search and just steal the old lady's money, he finds out that Hae-Joo actually has a rather large bank account. To make things worse, the old lady doesn't really have the money she promises, and the gangsters are closing in. So Duk-Geun can only do what any man would: seduce Hae-Joo and steal her money.
     As dark and sinister it may sound, Swindler in My Mom's House is a lot more lightweight than one may expect. Among the dark subjects that could've been explored include fraud, violent gangsters, alcoholism, and even pedophilia. Thankfully, none of those topics are taken seriously. When a crisis pops up, its pushed away rather quickly to put the focus back on the main plot. To the credit of Im and his co-writer Bae Su-Yung, some of those solutions are actually somewhat inventive, including the surprising effectiveness of a blow-up doll placed at a cliff. However, many other gags fall flat, including a trip to a karaoke that seems to serve no purpose other than to have the female stars do something wacky.
     Too many serious elements are introduced in the film, and possess too little payoff to make them all worthwhile. Many Korean comedies change genres too quickly to sustain an effective overall tone. This film tries to avoid that, but can only sustain irrelevant silliness with little drama to move the film along. The film intentionally ignores its serious elements, and does so with good intentions, as the filmmakers wanted to make a film that's cheery and suitable for most audiences. However, just because the filmmakers are successful in their intentions doesn't necessarily mean they've made a successful film.
     The filmmakers could've taken one of the two paths; they could have taken the conventional road and twisted multiple genres together for a melodramatic Korean comedy, or they could have simply made an over-the-top comedy that realizes its darker potential. The finished product seems to be stuck between a rock and a hard place, with Im Young-Sung knowing what he wants, but not knowing how to accomplish it without changing the entire plot. While I enjoy a lighthearted comedy about a good con just as much as the next person, Duk-Geun's con is way too mean to be pulled off successfully in Im's world, which means a con that takes over 30 minutes of screen time to set up is doomed to fail from minute one, not giving the audience much reason to stick around. Thankfully, the stars are good-looking, some of the gags do work, and as this review has pointed out, it's actually kind of fun. If that doesn't appeal to a general audience, I don't know what will. (Kevin Ma 2007)


DVD (Korea)
Region 3 NTSC
Taewon Entertainment
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Korean Language Track
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Korean subtitles
Various Extras

  Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen