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South Korea 2014

Comedy, Romance, Drama

Seong Si-heup

Jeong Jae-yeong
Han Ji-min
Cha Ye-ryeon
Jang Gwang
Kim Ji-young
Joo Jin-mo
Choi Won-yeong
Park Jin-joo
Park Gil-soo
Yoo Seung-mok
Ko Seo-hee

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Plan Man

Story: Han Jeong-seok (Jeong Jae-yeong) is a librarian and suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder. He plans his whole day and even sets his alarm to enter a shop where he buys his lunch at the same time. There he falls in love with the sales girl Ji-won (Cha Ye-ryeon) since she puts as much importance on tidiness as he does. Jeong-seok decides to confess his love to her after exactly hundred days. But when he enters the shop on that day the girl So-jeong (Han Ji-min) stands behind the counter. He can't cope with this unexpected situation and rushes out of the shop without taking his journal with him. When he wants to pick it up from So-jeong later and thus looks for her in a bar where she sings every now and then, he finds out that she has actually read his journal and made a song out of his life. In order to make up for this So-jeong wants to help him get together with her friend Ji-won. However, for Ji-won her perfectionism is a true bother and accordingly she isn't interested at all in somebody who is like her. Jeong-seok wants to show her that he can change and visits a psychiatrist. Moreover, he agress to form a band with So-jeong since he wants to prove to his love that he is serious about his resolution...

Review: We have learned to laugh about obsessive-compulsive disorder at the latest when the tv show "Monk" hit the screens, even the more as this mental illness also reflects our own everyday tics in an exaggerated manner. So why not make a romantic comedy with a protagonists who suffers from this illness? Success at the box-office is almost guaranteed and it doesn't come as a surprise that you get predictable gags with "Plan Man" which nonetheless will make you laugh out loud at times. Furthermore, the romance is thankfully taking a backseat. Accordingly, this film should also appeal to an audience that normally considers itself to be too masculine for this sort of flick. However, it's just this target audience that needs to be warned about a typical phenomenon of Korean romantic comedies: Slipping off into the melodramatic during the last third.

Plan Man - Film Screenshot 11

Still, it's somewhat natural that we get to see the reasons for Jeong-seok's suffering at the end. Of course his trauma needs to be dealt with by coming to terms with the past and so the road to catharsis needs to be paved. There is nothing bad about that, even the more since "Plan Man" actually gives some hints at the beginning of what we are to expect later on. Still, the featured coming-to-terms-with-the-past sequence turns out to be extremely tiresome and almost destroys the whole tone of the movie. While Jeong-seok's illness is portrayed in a lighthearted manner all of the time, along with some appropriate jokes, everything gets a dramatic tinge at the end. It may be true that director Seong Si-heup wanted to give his debut work a touch of social criticism, but this doesn't excuse having to watch Jeong Jae-yeong cry for minutes.

Plan Man - Film Screenshot 12

Still, you should probably be thankful that there is at least no one with a fatal illness. The melodramatic finale is dragging on quite a bit, which is especially apparent since the rest of the flick is pleasantly passing by in the blink of an eye and puts you in a cheerful mood. The many tears at the end are also a bother since Jeong Jae-yeong can't show his strong suit here. Jeong is particularly effective in comedies in which his deadpan face is put to good use, like for example "Going by the Book". If more melodramatic moments occur, as in "Castaway on the Moon", he needs a skilled director, otherwise his acting might get a bit overboard. Sadly, that's exactly what happens in "Plan Man" when Jeong-seok lays down his life story before us.

However, until the finale "Plan Man" is a very nice comedy, indeed. Jeong-seok is on the brink of a breakdown every time something isn't arranged orderly on the table and so most of the gags result from the people surrounding him having to deal with him in some way or another. Being at his side is the very spontanuous So-jeong who embodies the complete opposite of him in almost every respect. Han Ji-min ("The Cut") deserves some special praise as she doesn't just mimic the sassy girl we know from Korean romantic comedies for years already, but brings enough pecularities to the table to actually make her the most interesting personality on screen. The chemistry between the two leads is also just fine, even though there hardly is any love interest to be assumed from what we see. But that the screenplay is working towards such an ending is naturally obvious as soon as the first minute has passed.

Plan Man - Film Screenshot 13

Music doesn't play an insignificant part in "Plan Man" either. Both lead actors play an instrument and Han Ji-min performs the odd, yet somehow easy-to-the-ears songs with the appropriate charisma. It's also welcome that the movie doesn't needlessly continue centering around the subplot of So-jeong's former love interest, maybe suddenly turning the story into a musical film. Yet, despite some nice supporting characters like the psychiatrist you still get the feeling that the different story threads aren't seamlessly connected to one another. Notwithstanding all the listed flaws "Plan Man" remains a nice romantic comedy with good humor and nearly without the mandatory amount of kitsch. If it weren't for the theatrical ending there almost wouldn't be anything to complain about.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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