You Pet

You Pet

aka 너는 펫 aka Neo-neun Pet

Directed by Kim Byeong-gon

It’s time once again to dip our toes into the water that is Korean romantic comedies. You Pet has a slight twist, in that it is a Korean film but is based on a Japanese manga (Yayoi Ogawa’s Kimi wa Petto, which was also the basis for the Japanese tv series of the same name.) The translation into a distinctly Korean film is handled pretty well, you definitely will know the country of origin. Playing the lead is TarsTarkas.NET favorite Kim Ha-neul, who somehow always manages to be in entertaining romantic comedies. It’s like she was created in a lab after decades of testing, sort of how Disney produces their child stars. Playing opposite is Jang Geun-seok, who is one of the biggest studmuffins in all of Asia. You’ve probably heard of him, and his whole Prince of Asia designation, so I won’t go into much detail. Their individual charisma and chemistry together help elevate You Pet into a great piece of film. And that’s the most important thing, because the concept behind You Pet requires the leads work well together to keep it from becoming very disturbing.

It is important to note that like all romantic comedies, You Pet and Korean romantic comedies in general exist in an idealized world, where relationships fall into more easily defined categories and people don’t carry baggage associated with just living a life. Very attractive people will be alone for years and years because of the tiniest of flaws making the repellant to everyone of the opposite sex, and unattractive people just don’t exist (except for the occasional wacky character). Heck, even the extras in You Pet are almost all young professionals who look straight out of a talent agency. Even Eun-I’s parents look younger than they are, and appear ever-fleeting, less they age up the film.

You Pet does buck a bit of the trends by taking the established order of things and bending it on its ear. Instead of presenting the traditional want of landing a rich man and living happily ever after, You Pet‘s master/pet relationship between Eun-I and In-ho subverts things, but in a family-friendly way. Now, Korea may be modern and filled with people rapidly keeping up with today’s fast movie world, but it is also a land full of traditions. And these start to collide with the modern thinking when it comes to two people of the opposite sex living together while not in a relationship. Just having a male-female relationship that isn’t lovers and isn’t best friends can muddy the waters, and things get very cloudy very quickly, but a good cloudy. And while a safe outside the box approach to old traditions vs. modern life isn’t the most risky thing in the world, it does help reflect times changing, and I applaud films that try to do interesting things as opposed to playing it safe and boring. While many of Korea’s romantic comedies are sugar-coated fluff, some of them do confront relationship expectations in their own friendly-faced way, you just won’t get things like Happy End.

Ji Eun-I (Kim Ha-neul) – Ji Eun-I is a fashion magazine editor who spends most of her free time working and the rest of it being unsatisfied with loser chumps, to the point where she’s given up on dealing with men who do nothing but disappoint. But as her work life gets more hectic, her home life gets more complicated when Kang In-ho ends up living with her, and she decides to use him as a pet to make up for what is missing in her life. Kim Ha-neul is also in Too Beautiful to Lie, Dead Friend, My Tutor Friend, and My Girlfriend Is an Agent.
Kang In-ho (Jang Geun-seok) – Free spirit ballet dancer who cannot dance with a partner anymore due to guilt over the partner he injured (hmm…subtext much??) He is perpetually without money and prepping to choreograph a big show. But needing a place to live turns out to be more than he thought when he ends up at Ji Eun-I’s apartment after her brother moves him in. He agrees to be a pet in exchange for being able to stay, but their relationship soon becomes more complicated than master and pet.
Cha Woo-seong (Yoo Tae-joon) – Representing the traditional good rich guy who swoops in and Prince Charmings the girls of Korea. Cha Woo-seong is Ji Eun-I’s former crush who reenters her life to try to make her his wife, despite not seeing her for years and not talking to her when they did know each other. Cha Woo-seong is so set on trying to be the classic good guy that he ends up being just weird. And that’s weird for a film where a guy is a pet.

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