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(Kwasok scandle) (Korea)

  Publicity Stills of
"Scandal Makers"
(Courtesy of Encore Films)

In Korean with English & Chinese Subtitles
Director: Kang Hyung-chul

Cast: Cha Tae-Hyun, Park Bo-Young, Hwang Suk-Hyun
RunTime: 1 hr 48 mins
Released By: Encore Films & Cathay-Keris Films
Rating: PG
Official Website: http://www.encorefilms.com/scandalmakers.html

Opening Day: 20 August 2009


NAM Hyun-soo (CHA Tae-Hyun) is a former teen idol turned radio DJ.  Life’s wonderful for the swinging bachelor – he lives in a posh apartment and has no problems with the ladies. At work, ratings are on the rise because a young unmarried mother willing shares her story, of her search for her long-lost father with his listeners.

Before you can even say “scandalicious,” the young girl along with her little son, turns up at his front door claiming to be his daughter (and grandson)! Is this true or is she just a crazed stalker? Regardless, the vain and self-indulgent DJ Nam has to use all means to keep this under wraps or his celebrity image is finished!

Movie Review:

With the constant barrage of similar-themed romantic comedies (rom-com for short) over the years, moviegoers can be forgiven for giving up on the genre. A decent-looking lead actor paired with an equally decent-looking lead actress automatically results in a typical boy-meets-girl-and-ends-up-with-girl-happily story. Thus, when a film like "Scandal Makers" arrives to inject a much-needed twist by appearing to be a rom-com but ends up becoming something else entirely, ovations are in order.

At first, we have our main guy Nam Hyun-soo (played excellently by Cha Tae-hyun from "My Sassy Girl"), a not-so-popular radio DJ who enjoys living his single life while having the occasional flirting with girls. His radio talk show is currently on a roll for having a young single mother as a hot topic which translates into high listenership. Things seem to be fine until Hwang Jung-nam (Park Bo-young) shows up with her son Gi-dong (Wang Suk-hyun) to acknowledge Hyun-soo as her father. In an ironic twist, Jung-nam happens to be the very same single mother featured on Hyun-soo's radio show. A 36-year-old man having a 22-year-old daughter and a 6-year-old grandson? Absurd as it may be, Hyun-soo has to clear things up and prevent the media from discovering this particular skeleton in the closet before his public image is tarnished.

Although the film's poster proudly claims it to be Korea's all time #1 comedy, one should not perceive this to mean it is zany and brainless. Granted, there are a few laugh-out-loud slapstick moments, but it actually has more dramatic scenes than the average wacky comedy. It starts out like a rom-com and toys with the notion of having Hyun-soo and Jung-nam fall in love with each other at one point, but when it is indisputable that they are indeed flesh and blood, the film takes a left turn into father-daughter-grandson relationship drama territory, which becomes its strongest selling point. Music also plays a huge part as all three lead characters including little Gi-dong get to showcase their singing and musical talents. All these elements blend seamlessly to uplift the film from being a meaningless laugh-fest.

"Scandal Makers" even manages to take a jab at the dark side of the entertainment industry in highlighting the fact that celebrities need occasional scandals to boost their fame or risk being forgotten, and that the media tends to ignore has-beens such as Hyun-soo who used to be a teen idol before his DJ career, in favour of currently hot pop stars. The materialistic nature of celebrities is mentioned too as evident in Hyun-soo's participation in a TV commercial despite his dislike of children (note the contrast in his behaviour towards a boy during and after the commercial shoot).

A social commentary notwithstanding, the film is an entertaining dramedy through and through. All three lead actors provide the necessary energy and comedic timing aside from earning our sympathies when the story calls for them to display their sadder moments. After spending about 100 minutes with Hyun-soo and Jung-nam, we believe in their eventual transformations from vain selfish man and immature bothersome girl respectively into caring and responsible individuals.

Some may argue about the awkwardness of watching the boyish-looking Cha Tae-hyun as a father to a young adult girl, let alone a grandfather (although in reality, he is only 3 years younger than his onscreen character), but this is a minor bitterness to swallow compared to the sweet warm feeling one gets when the film ends. Those who are adamant on getting their usual rom-com fix should be appeased since the filmmakers have gracefully added subplots for both Hyun-soo and Jung-nam with regards to their respective love lives, considering the fact that they can never be a couple. Earlier in this review, I have mentioned the formulaic nature of rom-coms. "Scandal Makers" proves that tweaking the formula does not necessarily bring disastrous results. It helps a lot when a cute and adorable kid is included too.

Movie Rating:

(A feel-good dramedy that does not require a scandal to boost its fame)

Review by Tan Heng Hau


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