By Inkoo Kang
9:30 AM EDT, September 26, 2013
Romance and humor are famous homebodies; they never travel as much as they should.
Shot mainly in Los Angeles' Koreatown, the genre elements of the romantic comedy "Wedding Palace" attempt a transpacific transit, but get lost in translation. Director Christine Yoo's ambitious debut speaks to Korean American courtship and familial relations while satirizing them, and the result is as inventive — stuffed with animated sequences, a music video and a fake commercial — as it is tonally muddled.
The film begins with a common Korean ceremony: on protagonist Jason's (Brian Tee) hundredth-day celebration, his extended family looks expectantly while he chooses an object that will determine his future. A pen, some rice or a dollar bill? From his mother's purse, Jason fishes out a maxi-pad.
The prophecy comes true; the L.A.-based Jason meets the lovely Na Young (Kang Hye-Jung) in Seoul on a business trip, and a series of tampon-related mishaps fuels their affair. If American comedies tend to juxtapose sappiness with toilet humor, "Wedding Palace" achieves its sap through toilet humor. In one romantic montage, the lovebirds go on a cyber-date while both are on the can. (Now that's intimacy.)
When Jason finally proposes, his family turns on Na Young for a harmless but comical flaw. The happy ending arrives soon enough; the destination is more than familiar. But what a strange journey it is getting there.
MPAA rating: None. In English and incidental Korean with English subtitles
Running time: 1 hour, 38 minutes
Playing: CGV Theater, Los Angeles; Laemmle's Playhouse 7, Pasadena; Edward's University Town Center 6, Irvine.
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