Director: Jason Kim
Cast: Yoo Yeon-seok, Cha Tae-hyun, Jung In-sun, Kang Shin-il, Park Jin-joo
Runtime: 1 hr 53 mins
Released By: Golden Village Pictures
Opening Day: 30 March 2023
Synopsis: Min-soo (Yoo Yeon-seok) is an ordinary office worker who dreams of a perfect family. He has a dog, Rooney, whom he treats as a younger brother. Unexpected circumstances arises in Min-soo's life, when he can no longer live with Rooney ahead of his marriage with his fiancée who is allergic to dogs. Together with his cousin, Jin-guk (Cha Tae-hyun) who owns a cafe that went bankrupt, Min-soo decides to find a new family for Rooney. On their journey that starts in Seoul and continues to Jeju Island to find the perfect owner, the two encounter the heart-breaking reality of abandoned pets.
Director Jason Kim has tackled everything from action comedy to supernatural horror to now, a heartfelt canine drama starring Yoo Yeon-seok (New Year Blues) and Cha Tae-hyun (My Sassy Girl).
Dog-lover Min-su (Yoo) is about to marry this long-time girlfriend only to realise that she is actually allergic to dogs. Thus he has no choice but to find a new owner for his beloved loyal companion, a golden retriever named Rooney. With the company of his cousin/buddy, Jin-guk (Cha), the two guys embark on a long journey that takes them across Seoul to Jeju on a mission to find the perfect home for their canine or canines in this case.
The narrative is simple enough yet Yoo and Cha oozes enough chemistry to keep you invest in it throughout the nearly two hours duration. From a mother with a newborn baby to a teenager who recently lost his pet dog, the first hour follows Min-su and Jin-guk meeting a few potential dog owners from Instagram that results in a few laugh-out moments.
But while there are laughs, there are certainly heart tugging moments as well as the story tackles topics of dog abandonment and cruelty midway though Kim is more concerned about our protagonists getting cute and cuddly with the canines than providing any meaningful insight or messages on the hot button issues. A meetup with a seemingly dog lover on Jeju also feels like a lost opportunity to tell a story from another perspective.
Mostly, My Puppy attempts to tell a tale of how a man’s best four-legged friend gave purpose and meaning to his owner’s life but instead it’s our two human friends that are more interesting in the end. Min-su is still traumatised by the death of his mother that he left his childhood house shortly after her passing. Jin-guk on the other hand is tired of his life as a gym instructor after the closure of his café business even if he still holds on to his dream of making his much loved pour over coffee.
Again, the stellar performances of Yoo and Cha are particularly worth noting making this an exception where the movie never drags for a second when the humans are onscreen. Of course, the variety of furry friends including Jin-guk’s bulldog affectionately nicknamed Thor is a major attraction for dog lovers or those who can’t actually afford to rear a dog in real-life. The ongoing gag of Min-su and Jin-guk adopting more pets along the way also makes the whole journey comical and endearing.
Fortunately, there’s no dogs that die in the movie sparing you the need for unnecessary manipulative emotions. In a grand departure from the usual Hollywood canine titles, this Hallyuwood canine flick comes with much more purpose and definitely a worthy light journey to go on.
(A mixture of warmth and slapstick makes this dog flick an above average family-friendly affair)
Review by Linus Tee