Twenty 스물 (2015) Korean Movie Review: Currently Streaming [Repost]


Twenty (2015) Korean Movie Review: Rise of the Situation comedy about nothing?

#스물 #KimWooBin #LeeJoonHo #KangHaNeul #JungJooYeon #JungSoMin #LeeYooBi #MinHyoRin #Twenty #Kmovie


Now currently on streaming sites!


Introduction
Over the past few months, I have seen a lot of Korean movies and many seem to not really have an idea what they really wanted to do with themselves.


And many just were lame!

It is rare to see a movie that exactly knew what it wanted to be and made it a reality. The movie “Twenty (2015) is one of those movies!!

What is Twenty (2015)?
It is a teen sitcom in movie form!
Situation comedy!
How I met your mother (2005-2014)
Happy Endings (2011-2013)
New Girl  (2011-)

“Twenty” (2015) is essentially a Situation comedy like these TV Programs. According to Wikipedia,  a Situation comedy “is often character driven and by its nature running gags evolve during a series. Often the status quo of the situation is maintained from episode to episode. An episode may feature a disruption to the usual situation and the character interactions, but this will usually be settled by the episode's end and the situation returned to how it was prior to the disruption. These episodes are then linked by the overarching storyline, driving the show forward.”

This is a good description of this movie.


Plot Description
There is no real need to layout the plot of this movie in detail since there is not much plot any way.

What do I mean?

Twenty (2015) is basically 3 “slice of life” stories with different characters with very little plot-wiser meaning interactions between them. You have 3 friends: the playboy/leach, the diligent/mild mannered student, and the artist poor guy.

And these characters can be boiled down to these labels without losing much since they are not deep characters at all.  

Twenty (2015) is not that kind of movie.

It does not even have an collective goal like getting laid before graduation like "American Pie (1999)". Each individual character’s plot is very generic. With the playboy/leach, his story is about learning love and growing just an inch as a person. So, basically it is the lessor version of “National Lampoon's Van Wilder” (2002). With the diligent/mild mannered student, you have him break away from an idealized narrow approach to love. And with the artist poor guy, it is a story of finding the middle point between his financial reality and chasing his dreams.

The manner in which these stories are portrayed is to rotate between these 3 plots showing fragments of each and, once in a while, the characters get together to hang and this almost has no impact of their individual stories.

the diligent/mild mannered student
the artist poor guy.
the playboy/leach
Repeat!
the diligent/mild mannered student
the artist poor guy.
the playboy/leach
Hang!!
Repeat!

And interestingly, this structural format is followed exactly for at least the first half of the movie. In the later parts, the sequence rather breaks down.


The Comedy
I said that Twenty (2015) was a Situation comedy.


But what exactly do I mean?

Twenty (2015) lies somewhere between a John Hughes (1950-2009) coming of age movie (e.g.  Ferris Bueller's Day Off) and “raunchy” American Pie (1999) with a nice dose of the verbal “screwball “comedy of “How I met your mother” (2005-2014) and a slight pinch of the silliness/hyper reality of “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” (2004).

I personally think that 60% of the comedy in the movie comes out of the dialogue.  Twenty (2015)  is one of the rare Korean movies that uses the trash talk that young guys share between each other as verbal comedy. While there are one line jokes, a lot of the humor comes from the verbal sparring between the characters.

In addition to the screwball humor set in mundane situations, the characters go through many silly situations that only really exist in the hyper realities of comedies. Because of this combination of different comedy styles, Twenty (2015) does not feel like recent Hollywood comedy movies in which you throw everything on the wall and see what sticks. This approach makes movies feel uneven. In contrast, the comedy in Twenty (2015) is more consistent with at least one chuckle worthy scene coming on screen every 5 minutes or so.


The Characters.
Since, in comedies, you are either laughing with or at the characters, it is easy for them to becomes unlikable. At the same time, a comedy movie relies heavily on at least one of its characters being likable even more than other genre movies. Usually, this is the straight character who grounds the shenanigans of the crazy ones.

When the movie is more edgy or raunchy, this becomes more difficult as the characters have more issues such as being perverts (i.e. horny idiots).

This juggling is not easy!

With Twenty (2015), all of the main 3 characters could be said to be likable in their own manner. However, some of the times, it does cross the line a little which usually happens when the main 3 characters are together and their joint IQ drops below 3 digits and their pervert level increases 3 fold.  Overall, you can say the movie is successful balancing out the likability and distastefulness of the characters.

In terms of the acting, Twenty (2015) does not require a lot of dramatic skill. However, it does require comedic timing and delivery. I think the actors are able to pull off the sitcom level acting requirements well. Even Kim Woo-Bin, who has only one creepy stare in his wheel house, works well with his playboy role. He is the less talented but creepier version of Van Wilder (i.e. Ryan Reynolds). And he is exactly what this movie’s needs.

I would even say that Kim Woo-Bin should focus on comedies rather than trying to be a leading man in anything really dramatic.

Lee Joon-Ho as the mild mannered student and Kang Ha-Neul as the poor artist also do decent jobs with their roles. In the actress arena, Jung So-Min and      Lee Yoo-Bi have the more pronounced supporting roles. With not much to do, both do decent jobs albeit nothing really different from what they did in Korean dramas.



What I did not like?
Twenty” (2015) is a rare movie that executes its premise exactly as it wanted to. So, if you like the premise, there is not much to criticize. However, it is not perfect. One thing is that I think the movie is longer than it should be with a running time of 115 minutes. There is not much of an overall plot and the individual plots are just a series of rather mundane situations.  Even though they are funny, you could cut out about 20 minutes.

I wish the movie cut some of the creepy scenes out.


Another thing is that I rather had issues with the latter half of the movie messing up the plot rotation sequence. In addition, some of the plots ended earlier than others which were a little irritating. However, the less observant movie goers will not notice it much.

Finally, premise wise, I thought it was a little too light. I do get that a point of the movie was that the age of 20 is a carefree time where you can make mistakes and learn from them. However, not much of the actual story sticks with you after leaving the theater.

But sill the movie is funny.


At the end
Twenty (2015) is about friends spending their 20th year on the planet making mistakes and learning from them.  You can do that because even loves lost in your 20s are just experiences that make you a better person. At the same time, it is about being carefree and wasting your youth doing silly stuff with your friends since you do not really learn that much or change much when you are 20.

And I am envious of those 20 year old characters even though the actors are 5 years older than their characters and it shows!


As a side note, Twenty (2015) has a fighting scene similar to that of the “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” (2013) that comes out of nowhere.

Twenty (2015) is that kind of movie.

And, to be frank, it is rather long.
I give this funny movie an A-. I think most people will enjoy this movie. While the execution is great, the movie is too light for me to give it an A.  It may not be a classic for the ages but will be remembered fondly in my opinion.

Score: A- or 8.25/10



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10 comments:

  1. hopefully you can answer it for me.. Twenty is coming to theaters in Toronto, my little sister is wanting to see it, the rating is 15+ for nudity, But no one is specific as to how inappropriate it is.. of course i don't want to take her to see anything too inappropriate, So since you've seen the movie, What's your opinion? Were their inappropriate scenes? I mean, like does someone's butt show for a second or is it something more?.. thanks so much if you could answer!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What nudity?
      It is tame to the degree that a 12 year old can watch it.

      Delete
    2. Oh really? there isn't? That's good to know.. The official release said it was 15+ for violence, sexual activity and nudity so I was a little weary about taking her being she's young...But if you're sure it didn't exist throughout the movie, I change my mind. Not sure why exactly they rated it 15+ for those reasons, But Thanks! I enjoyed your review

      Delete
    3. It is a movie about 20 year old dudes. So there will be crude sex jokes. If your goid with American pie or van wilder, you'll be fine.
      but it is more of a guy movie

      Delete
  2. Thanks for the review. What is the rating system in Korean cinema, like we have PG, R and NC 17 in Hollywood? I couldn't find any substantive article on it.

    ReplyDelete
  3. how did you get to watch korean movies like 'twenty' or "salut 'd amour" if you're living in the US

    ReplyDelete
  4. i love this movie, watch twenty korean movie here: http://dramaonair.com/movie/2015/twenty

    ReplyDelete
  5. I agree that the actors did a good job, but i don't think this movie deserve an A-. I am a big fan of Kim Woo Bin cause he is really a good actor, but this movie is just sucks. I regret i watched it, and now i have to review all the new released korean movie before i watch it cause i dont want to waste my money and time on a bad movie.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks for the review!

    One minor error though: Kang Ha-Neul plays the mild-mannered student and Lee Joon-ho the artist, not the other way around :) Have a great day

    ReplyDelete