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Mr. Idol - Movie Poster
Original Title:
Mr. A-i-dol

South Korea 2011

Comedy, Drama

Ra Hee-chan

Park Ye-jin
Ji Hyeon-woo
Im Won-hee
Kim Soo-ro
Jay Park
Ko Chang-seok
Jang Young-nam
Joo Jin-mo
Jang Seo-won
Kim Randy
Ahn Seo-hyeon
Lee Seung-ha

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Mr. Idol

Story: Oh Goo-joo (Park Ye-jin) is manager of the boyband "Mr. Children". When one day the lead singer falls in love with a colleague which could tarnish the band's pure image Goo-joo leaves no doubt that he has no other choice but to forget the girl. Eventually the singer commits suicide right on stage. Goo-joo needs three years to cope with this traumatic experience. When she returns to her old job there is already another boyband everyone is talking about. The manager persists in bringing "Mr. Children" back to the top. Therefore, she hands her superior (Kim Soo-ro) her resignation and along with her colleague Sang-sik (Im Won-hee) starts to bring together the old band members. There is only a singer missing and so she holds a casting. By chance Yoo-jin (Ji Hyeon-woo), who a few days before took Goo-joo's luggage by accident, participates, too. He proves to have talent and the manager has finally assembled all band members. However, it doesn't seem to be that easy being successful, even the more as Yoo-jin lacks the necessary experience and fitness. After a few small performances the internet does the pr work for them, though, and the band's days of success have finally come.

Review: To be honest I didn't deserve it any better. A movie with the title "Mr. Idol" should have made me suspicious of what's to be expected. But sometimes naive hope prevails. In this case in the shape of the thought that maybe a media-critical analysis of the K-Pop boom would find its way on the screen. The poster is also rather misleading as it makes you believe that you possibly will get to see a (visual) rock band which is making actual music. But all of this is wishful thinking. "Mr. Idol" is a small present to all those screaming, pubescent fangirls. Considering this the movie might not be that bad after all, but the countless ballads, of which one sounds like the other, and a chaotically told story that lacks a real thread running through it rank the movie among something like "please let me forget this as soon as possible".

Mr. Idol - Film Screenshot 11

The way boybands are cobbled together in Korea (and the rest of Asia) actually only let you assume that producers use a modular system to randomly put together their stars. It all looks extremely artificial, as do the mandatory ballads and the feel-good music. A lead singer, a dancer, a rapper and another one who is actually absolutely dispensable. Shouldn't you think that you will have a slight idea of the inner life of at least those four individuals at the end of the film? Wrong. And it gets even worse. Yoo-jin at first seems like a promising character, but the more he becomes part of the boyband the more character traits of his disappear and the more he becomes the kind of fake doll the producers can model according to their wishes, like his fellow band members.

Mr. Idol - Film Screenshot 12

The only ray of hope is Park Ye-jin ("Head", "Life is Cool"), but unfortunately her character remains robot-like all the time as even Yoo-jin observes. That is supposed to reflect her emotional seclusion because of the death of a former star of hers, but in the end it's just awkward. Ji Hyeon-woo ("Old Miss Diary") tries hard to perform the thankless task of the protagonist, but ultimately he fails. This is mainly the fault of a screenplay that may try to introduce even several individuals but in doing so approaches things in such an unstructured manner that it is even sad to watch while constantly just scratching the surface. Also questionable is that you grow more fond of the supporting cast than of anyone else after all.

Still, hope dies last as we all know and so we are waiting for the critical voices to be raised concerning a business that squeezes money out of screaming girls with an appaling calculating scheme. Every now and then you believe to see some criticism, but maybe you are just seeing what you want to see... At the bottom line there is no doubt that "Mr. Idol" wants to take up the cudgels for mass-produced music performed by compliant robots. As long as you feel the music and can make others happy with it there is nothing to argue about, reads the message. However, you can argue about stuffing the whole movie with corny ballads. Only "Do Re Mi Fa So La Si Do" has done worse in this respect, but luckily "Mr. Idol" doesn't work on exactly the same kitsch level. Namely because there may be a romance story, but it is only touched upon. And yet this is done in a clumsy and incomprehensible manner as well. Why do the two lovers run after each other on the airport during the final scenes? Yes, there is one of those airport scenes...

Mr. Idol - Film Screenshot 13

But even though there might be no heartache to be found, there are a lot of songs including wannabe-emotional singing of an alleged heartthrob, which sounds like the singer just got a kick in the crotch. Everything sounds so alike that you need to listen carefully in order to find out if it's actually a new song we are presented with. Moreover, "Mr. Idol" is so negligible that we get an odd scene at the end that hints at there being no loser when it comes to music. What did director Ra Hee-chan, whose great debut work "Going by the book" apparently was just the effort of scriptwriter Jang Jin, think when making this movie? At times terrible editing and numerous lengthy scenes also make boredom creep in on several occasions. Surely just for fangirls - until even they have grown up someday...

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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