Romantic comedies are a dime a dozen. Sadly, no matter how you spin the plot, when you’ve seen one you’ve got the formula for all of them. On the other hand sometimes the spinning of the plot is enough to keep you interested. Take PENNY PINCHERS (티끌모아 로맨스) for example. Novice director Kim Jeong Hwan has done a decent job of making the necessary cheesiness of romantic comedies bearable. I’m sure it helps that he also wrote the story.
Ji Woong, played by schoolgirl heartthrob Song Joong Ki, is a loser who has no interest in finding a job. He happily lives off of his mother’s money and is fine with dodging his land lady on a daily basis. He gets a wake-up call when he suddenly gets evicted and his mother can no longer support him. Then enters his frugal neighbor Hong Sil to save the day. Hong Sil, played by Han Ye Seul, has spent almost all of her adult life trying to save $100,000. She recycles, steals toilet paper and evens runs scams in order to make a buck. When developers come in with a a hefty payday in exchange for their properties she comes up with a plan. She over hears that her neighbor is getting evicted and makes a deal with his land lady to pay his back rent in exchange for putting his lease in her father’s name, which will double her money. She then convinces Ji Woong to go into business with her, promising a lump sum of money for his help. After that the rest is history.
PENNY PINCHERS may be light and funny but it also touches on some of the issues facing Korean youth. It’s a rat race out there and if you’re not on top of it then you’re struggling. Moving past the political statements, it’s just a cute and funny film. Each character had their likable and unlikable moments, which helped you either sympathize or admonish when needed. Also, I have to say that I am a fan of how the relationship between the two developed. They didn’t just suddenly noticed how beautiful the other was. They moved from a working relationship to a friendship to love. It was like real life in a romantic comedy and I found it very refreshing. I could keep talking but there’s no fun in that. Go see it for yourself.
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