Straight-laced Charlie Bellow (Jesse Bradford) has a perfectly
predictable life. Great grades, great future, no risks. That
is, until he meets Jordan Roark (Elisha Cuthbert), a compulsive
girl who lives every moment on the edge. As Jordan teaches
Charlie to loosen up and let go, Charlie finds himself falling
helplessly in love even as his life spins out of control.
But Jordan's carefree attitude masks a painful secret, and
when it threatens to tear them apart, Charlie will have to
show her that once destiny guides you to the one you want,
it's up to you to hold on.
My Sassy Girl is the latest product of Hollywood’s recent
obsession with remaking Asian movies. And sadly, like its
predecessors from Tinseltown, it fails to live up to the charm
of the original.
Much of the appeal of Kwak Jae Young’s 2001 bittersweet
romantic comedy hit resided in its exuberant female lead,
Gianna Jun (otherwise known as Jun Ji-hyun). Much of the lack
of appeal of Yann Samuel’s remake resides in its annoying
female lead, Elisha Cuthbert, better known for her roles in
24 and Captivity.
Though some may say that such comparisons are unfair, they
are inevitable considering the lack of imagination of Victor
Levin’s screenplay. Not to say that it is not faithful
to the original, but Levin transplants entire scenes from
the original’s Korean setting to its current New York
locale with mixed results.
A lot of what is lost in translation rests on the subversion
of gender roles in traditionally male-dominated Korean society,
most prominently when “sassy girl” orders “bumbling
guy” around. Most of such scenes are preserved here,
but somehow without their cultural significance, they are
at best comedic, at worst inane.
The buck then rests on Cuthbert to play the domineering but
ultimately endearing “sassy girl”. Unfortunately,
Cuthbert has neither the cuteness nor sassiness of Jun. Her
portrayal of upper-class New York girl Jordan Roark comes
across more annoying than amusing. Even with its twist ending
(don’t worry, no spoilers ahead), Cuthbert fails to
win the hearts of audiences like Jun did.
Fortunately, Jesse Bradford fares better as the ordinary working-class
simpleton Charlie Bellow whose life and love is turned upside
down by the appearance of Roark. The problem is Bradford and
Cuthbert lack sufficient chemistry to convince us that we
are seeing “the first and last time” Charlie is
falling in love as his character says.
My Sassy Girl marks French director Yann Samuell’s debut
Hollywood film. It is also his sophomore effort after Love
Me If You Dare, a similarly fairytale-esque love story of
childhood sweethearts Julien and Sophie whose pranks start
innocent and turn dangerous.
Samuell tries to stamp his mark on this film by using the
same animated sequences and confectionery colours in some
parts. Yet these parts are few and far in between, and though
delightful, appear disjointed with the rest of the film.
As far as romantic comedies go, My Sassy Girl isn’t
the worst of the lot. As far as remakes go, just like many
of its kind, it disappoints on the merits of its much superior
predecessor. Considering its direct to DVD fate in the States,
My Sassy Girl really fares much better as a lazy Saturday-night
home movie than a theatrical release.
(Just okay for a date movie, but missing the 'sassiness' of
its far superior predecessor and ultimately, undeserving of
its local theatrical release)