Monday Movie: 200 Pound Beauty or 미녀는 괴로워

I was sitting around in my Korean class waiting for class to start. Okay, well actually I was sleeping on my desk. My professor was talking, and talking, and talking. Nothing different from the norm, but I wasn’t paying attention. I think I fell asleep while she was talking about prepositions or noun-modifiers, but when I woke up the class was dark and a movie was playing on the wall.

Several thoughts ran through my head.

One. Go back to sleep.

Two. What was the last movie we saw in class? Right, “the Classic”

Three. How about before that? “My Sassy Girl”. Before that was “JSA” and before that I watched part of “Oldboy”.

Four. All of those are good movies. Damn… I should wake up.

Glad I woke up.

In the US cosmetic surgery is traditionally for rich people, celebrities, and people who “need” it. But in South Korea, cosmetic surgery is advertised in subways, buses, newspapers and everywhere else that the public can see. In fact, everyone that I’ve met knows at least one cosmetic surgeon. Hell, I found out that one my uncles (second or third) is a plastic surgeon.

So when this film came out in Korea, next to rave reviews were screaming parents’ groups complaining about how the film promotes cosmetic surgery for anyone who isn’t happy with themselves. And in reality, that’s a heavy part of the film’s premise.

Hanna on the left, Jenny on the right.

Hanna is overweight, in love with her boss, has a father who has Alzheimers, and just got dumped by her boyfriend. By night she works on a phone sex hotline but the rest of the time she’s actually a behind the scenes pop singer. Contracted for her voice (and only her voice) she sings under the stage while the star, “Ammy”, dances and lip syncs on stage.

I don’t want to spoil the entire story for you, but events snowball and she gets cosmetic surgery from head to toe. The way she goes about getting the cosmetic surgery and how she pays for such expensive procedures is, well, imaginative to say the least. When Hanna gets out of the hospital, she’s transformed into Jenny; a new singer from California who wants to make it big in Korea.

Of course, that’s just the meat; there’s her best friend, the music producer who has to ask his father for sponsoring money, her unhinged surgeon and her awesomely cute dog who are more potatoes in the soup. Well, maybe not the dog, but the dog is damned cute… actually she looks like my dog, I even taught my dog the trick that you see in the movie.

Don't look now, but Hyori's coming.

The first quarter of the movie follows Hanna through events that lead up to her transformation and the rest follows events and consequences of her transformation. It wasn’t the best film I’ve ever seen, but it was more than enough for me to try and hunt down an actual DVD copy while I was living in the states.

The film starts pick up when Jenny gets picked up by her former music production firm as a pop star. Things slowly start to snowball again when she refuses to get any cosmetic surgery done and gets billed as an “all-natural” pop star and eventually replaces Ammy’as the number one in the company.

While the movie is billed as a comedy, it really does try to tackle some of the more sensitive issues not only surrounding cosmetic surgery but people who take drastic measures to change their lives. The film is actually smarter than it looks and asks [and answers] some hard questions.

If you haven’t seen this film yet, I’d definitely recommend looking it up. It’s funny, well written and more intelligent than it lets on. When the movie hits its climax, it definitely hits hard. Some of the decisions that Hanna makes as Jenny aren’t the best and some are just hurtful to the people around her, but eventually things come back and and when they do… it makes for a damned good movie. The only real complaint that I have is that I just wish it were a bit longer. There wasn’t anything that felt rushed, but there

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