Love Forecast / 오늘의 연애 (2015) Korean Movie Review

Love Forecast / 오늘의 연애 (2015) Korean Movie Review


Today among stiff competition, Love Forecast (2015) starring Moon Chae-Won and Lee Seung-Gi opened this week. And you can describe a lot of this movie using two Hollywood movies of the last century as reference: When Harry Met Sally… (1989) and There’s Something About Mary (1998).

In the movie’s actual story and structure, Love Forecast (2015) is quite similar to When Harry Met Sally… (1989). It is about two friends of the opposite gender falling in love, told via an episodic narrative. Also, both are more of a humorous drama or “Dramadies” rather the outright comedies.

On a meta-filmmaking level, Love Forecast (2015) is meant to lift a female ingénue and show her off to the world in 60 feet billboards as a star! In this way, it is similar to There’s Something About Mary (1998). Both movies are designed to have ”out of her league“ male characters surround the female ingénue and help her shine. While the lead of There’s Something About Mary (1998) was Ben Stiller, Cameron Diaz stole that movie. With Love Forecast (2015), Moon Chae-Won is Cameron Diaz. Love Forecast (2015) is Moon Chae-won’s movie.

The problem with this movie originates primarily from the clash between the qualities represented by When Harry Met Sally… (1989) and There’s Something About Mary (1998). The two do not go well together.

The Plot

In all intents and purposes, the plot is not the important thing in Love Forecast (2015). Your typical childhood friends of the opposite gender stuck in the Friendzone story with the obvious ending of no longer being in the friend zone.

The male lead played by Lee Seung-Gi has known the female lead played by Moon Chae-Won since they have been children as they have lived together for that time because of … events. Nothing tragic, but just events caused them to live together in his house. It does not really matter.

I’ll use the actors’ names of the characters they play from now on.

Lee Seung-Gi has had a crush on her ever since he first saw her, but the two have never been together. And it was not because of Lee Seung-gi’s lack of effort. He had attempted to get things going with her several times in the past. It is not like that. She does not know he has feelings for her. According to her, Lee Seung-Gi does not DO IT for her. So, they are excellent friends now.

While Lee Seung-gi still has feelings for Moon Chae-Won, he had other relationships that basically ended around the 3rd-month mark. Moon Chae-Won has her own relationship issues as she is in love with a married man. Thus, the two keep ending up crying over drinks and smoked pig’s feet.

Well, it is more like she cries, and he takes care of her.

At this point, we’ll have to discuss their dynamic. It is what we Korean’s call “The Princess and Servant” relationship. You have a willful female, basically dominating a submissive male being pampered and worshiped. Moon Chae-Won is the princess in this relationship. Her character is like if you combine the goofy cluelessness of Meg Ryan with the modern edge of Cameron Diaz and sprinkle in some cute doll-like features of Anna Kendrick.

In a way, you can think of her as a toned-down version of Jun Ji-Hyun in “My Sassy Girl” (2001). Lee Seung-Gi feels like a hybrid of Ben Stiller’s wackiness and Owen Wilson’s goofiness with a little bit of Billy Crystal down trot. Unlike Moon Chae-Won, this combination is difficult to imagine. However, it is the stock character of Lee Seung-Gi. No one is going to win acting awards here! In any case, Lee Seung-Gi is submissive.

Not Directed by Rob Reiner or Written by Nora Ephron

Structurally, Love Forecast (2015) follows When Harry Met Sally… (1989) example of tying together episodic events instead of a strong narrative driving the plot. There is no central conceit driving the plot.

No saving the Rec Center.
No amnesia.
No ticking clock.
No store you have to save.

In other words, Love Forecast (2015) is not You’ve Got Mail (1998)!

Love Forecast (2015) also puts equal weight on both lead actors like When Harry Met Sally… (1989). However, what differs is that the movie is narrated, actually a lot, via voice-over by Lee Seung-Gi. In other words, the movie is telling us that this story is Lee Seung-gi’s story told from his perspective. This is actually the approach taken by There’s Something About Mary (1998). Even though Cameron Diaz stole the movie, it was Ben Stiller’s story being told.

As a result, the equal weight put on the two leads does not match with the movie’s perspective. This would have been less of a problem if Love Forecast (2015) took the approach taken when Harry Met Sally… (1989) kept the characters together in scenes as much as humanly possible. During its first act, Love Forecast (2015) does this as Moon Chae-Won, and Lee Seung-I just hangs around doing normal-ish stuff. As a result, the first act is the best part of the movie.

The place where the two commonly hang is this “Public Bath” themed bar managed by their couple friends. This couple plays the supporting soundboard characters like those played Carrie Fisher and Bruno Kirby in When Harry Met Sally… (1989), although they are more skewed towards Lee Seung-Gi. They are more his friends than hers. In any case, this is an interesting element of the movie.

The “public bath” theme and not the fact that Moon Chae-won does not have any friends are also not his friends.

Leaving the Bechdel test aside, the movie has some chauvinistic tones to it. But if you see the movie as Lee Seung-gi’s story, it makes sense.

The problem with the movie happens to go into the second act. There are far few scenes of the two leads together as they go off on their own subplots. Lee Seung-Gi has an unnecessary subplot dating Hwa Young, who is two cent copy of Park Shin-Hye.

Wow, the two look so alike! I thought Park Shin-Hye went on a bender and ended up in this movie with a hangover.

Moon Chae-Won goes through subplots involving her disposable married boyfriend and then a new young photographer guy. She also gets a workplace rivalry subplot that facilitates a “guy running towards her” scene that most romantic comedies have. I get the married boyfriend subplot. You have to have a Meg Ryan disposable love interest in the movie.

Bill Pullman and Greg Kinnear need jobs.

This is one of those movies without any villains. You are either disposable or not. I do not get why the movie needed to introduce a young photographer guy at the tail end of an already long extended 2nd act in a 3 act movie.

Did I mention that this movie feels like a 4 act movie because the 2nd act is too long?

Literally, the only reason for this character played by Jung Joon-Young, who cannot actually act, to be in the movie is that the writer wanted to spell out who Moon Chae-Won was as a character. If the audience does not know who the character is in the third act, you have a more serious problem. I’ll get back to this later.

Lee Seung-Gi is not Billy Crystal or even Cha Tae-Hyun from “My Sassy Girl” (2001)

For a 2 hour movie, Love Forecast (2015) feels long because of this extended 2nd act. You could cut out 20 minutes of this movie in the 2nd act without much problem. The more serious problem is with Lee Seung-Gi and his character. Lee Seung-Gi is not a bad comedy actor for what he does. This is his first starring movie role, but he has done Korean dramas, including The King 2 hearts (2012) with superstar Ha Ji-Won who actually has a movie opening on the same day.

However, this character in Love Forecast (2015) gets irritating the more you know about him. In other words, he is like the collection of the worst parts of Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, and Billy Crystal.

Good for a night on the town but not for a weekend!

Thus, seeing him on his own subplot alone separated from Moon Chae-Won, with who he oddly has good chemistry, tends to get dull fast.

The two do work well off each other.

I may be biased since I am a dude, but Moon Chae-Won is the more interesting character with more actually to do, although not fleshed out. She has a career she is passionate about; I presume she has some family issues, some father issues, etc. It only helps that the movie really showcases how lovely Moon Chae-Won is.

While living in America, I was not into the Korean female ingénue thing. I liked the more pronounced strong American female thing. However, once back in Korea, I found myself adapting to my environment. So, Moon Chae-Won seems much more attractive than a few months ago.

Back to Lee Seung-gi’s character. He is not well written enough to carry half of this movie. As an actor, I think Lee Seung-Gi is not as interesting as, let’s say, Cha Tae-Hyun from “My Sassy Girl” (2001), who was in a similar role. This does not mean his terrible, but Moon Chae-won actually gets overshadowed, who is not also the best in terms of acting talent. In combination with the length of the 2nd act, Lee Seung-Gi, on his own, makes the movie drag a lot!

Let’s get back to something I mentioned before.

What Question is Your Romcom about?

While some dismiss romantic comedies as just chick-flick fluff, I respect it as a genre that targets a certain audience’s specific attributes, not unlike horror. I have actually seen more Romcom movies in my life than most people’s total film experience. So, I’m not against it as a movie genre. I am actually sad that the Romcom as a movie genre has died out over the last decade in Hollywood.

I am trying to say that I know the romantic comedy genre of which Love Forecast (2015) falls into. It is said that romantic comedies are formulaic, but this could also be interpreted as being concise. Romantic comedies have a simple question in the form of an obstacle to asking in the movie. In the case of When Harry Met Sally… (1989), it was “whether or not men and females could be friends.”

The answer was No!
Some forget that.

There’s Something About Mary (1998); it was why Cameron Diaz is so attractive? I got that answer fast! HOT!

With Love Forecast (2015), the movie is not sure what question it is asking. It is not “whether the lack of courage and communication is hindering my relationship.” Many romcoms asked this question. Moon Chae-Won knows about his feeling and is just stringing him along basically as a gay best friend or a brother.

The movie actually has an incest joke because the two are basically seen as a family by the other characters. The movie does not provide information since I had no idea what their relationship was until well into the 2nd act.

Were they step-siblings?
Why are the two in the same family portrait?

It is not “was it my being fat when I was young” like “Just Friends” (2005) starring Ryan Reynolds. It is not “because you were a bitch when you were young,” too. The movie does not know what the question is asking. While the question does not need to be deep, there has to be one since there has to be a reason why the two leads are not together already.

Whether it is the result or the reasons for this, this is linked to the fact that the character of Moon Chae-Won is still mysterious at the end of the movie. This is not the intent of the movie. It is the script’s fault. We do not know why the two did not hook up before this. Is it really because she did not feel sexually attracted to him? Then, the movie just made her settle at the lowest point in her private and professional career.

Yes, Love Forecast (2015) is one movie that needs to drag the woman down in the dirt to end it.

In contrast, there is nothing really to the character of Lee Seung-Gi. He is just this rather submissive guy who thinks being submissive equals being nice. He is also somewhat shallow and controlling. During his friendship with Moon Chae-Won, he cleaned her house all the time like a maid because … he wanted to? He keeps following her and saying not to bring men over to her own home where she lives alone. If you think about it, their relationship is rather creepy. At the minimum, it is not a healthy one.

Chauvinist Pig?

Before I end this long review, let’s talk about the chauvinism of this movie. For a movie about 20 somethings, Love Forecast (2015) does not actually have any sex in it. It actually tiptoes around it. The movie even has a scene where it seems like Lee Seung-Gi is having sex, but it is just a trick, and he is doing something totally innocent.

The basic philosophy referred to in the movie is that men should either go for it and shove a woman against a wall or “protect” her to the bitter end. The first is obvious and has some slight rape connotations. Just subtext!

The second choice, protect, is essentially not having sex with her. So, it is the whole slut or saint paradigm in play. The only one who gets punished by the movie is Moon Chae-won because she had an affair. I do not know if she “actually” had a physical affair or if it was just a “platonic” one that Korean dramas tend to pull off. It would not surprise me if it were the latter in her case.

Moon Chae-Won gets the short end of the straw in terms of romcoms ladies of tarnished virtues.

Not only this, but her knight doesn’t even save Moon Chae-won in shining armor. Rather she just settled for the guy who has been essentially hanging around her for years. And the movie actually awards her for this decision.

At the end

Love Forecast (2015) is like 40 minutes or so of a good Romantic comedy. The first act is the best part of the movie, as the second act is long, and the third act doesn’t really work. As a result, you may start looking at your wristwatch halfway through the movie.

Do people still have those?

However, the real reason to see this movie is Moon Chae-Won. This is her movie! Every time her big face is on screen, she shines. Her acting has more left to desire. She will not become Meryl Streep, but she may become Cameron Diaz. We’ll have to wait and see.

I give Love Forecast (2015) a C+!

Score: C+ or 5.25/10