The Dude in Me / 내안의 그놈 [Naeanui Geunom] (2019)
Director: Kang Hyo-jin
Writer: Park Dae-sung
Cast: Young Jin, Ra Mi-ran, Park Sung-woong
A bullied overweight teenager (Young Jin) is thought to have attempted suicide by jumping off a building. Instead of going splat on the pavement, he falls onto a 40 something year old businessman / gangster (Park Sung-woong). Both survive leaving the gangster in the a coma but when the teenager wakes up, he isn’t himself but rather has the mind of the gangster.
The body swap comedy is definitely a setup that can generate laughs but it relies heavily on the acting. This is one of the better ones with lots of humor and a good central performance. It’s also accompanied by a fair number of fight scenes, which are more like one-sided beat downs administered by the gangster in the teenager’s body. The majority of the movie is the gangster in the teenager’s body. By comparison there is not much of the teenager in the gangster’s body. It only comes up closer to the end in the buildup to the climax.
There are also surprisingly some well-deserved emotional payoffs in the latter half. Even though the ending is wrapped up way too nicely, the confused daughter, for example, seems to be simply forgotten as it’s unclear if she actually believes or knows of the body swap but the movie has pretty much accumulated so much good will that you ignore or forget the flaws in the moment.
The acting is pretty good all around. The actor who plays the teenager was convincing enough to me. His scenes with a past first love who’s a single mother are both funny and touching. There’s one great scene toward the end where it looks like the teenager cannot fight his way out of a situation. It’s a scene that balances seriousness with comedy and shows the single mom coming up with a desperate act.
One shouldn’t think too hard about the social aspect of bullying which figures prominently in the story. That’s because essentially this movie shows you that if you’re bullied, the solution is to beat the crap out of everybody. If only that were a possibility in real life…
Overall the jokes hit the funny bones as hard as the punches and like many of those punches, they hit their targets. A fun movie to watch with a Fantasia audience.
Seen in the theater at Fantasia festival