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Original Title:
Yeongeo wanjeonjeongbok

South Korea 2003

Comedy, Romance

Kim Sung-su

Lee Na-yeong
Jang Hyuk
Angela Kelly
Kim In-mun
Na Mun-hee

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Please teach me English

Story: Na Yeong-ju (Lee Na-yeong) works as a young employee in the civil service sector. Since her bureau oftentimes has foreign clients, she is chosen of all the employees to be the one who will have to attend English lessons. Although Yeong-ju is always comlaining that never anything happens in her life at all and she will never find a boyfriend this way, she's not excited about being forced to learn English in a group. However, this changes when she spots the playboy Moon-su (Jang Hyuk) in her class. At once she tries to win over her new man of dreams, but her shy nature and the fact that Moon-su himself has only eyes for their English teacher Cathy (Angela Kelly) make it nearly impossible for her.
Nevertheless, Moon-su and Yeong-ju get to know each other as time wents by. Moon-su only seems to be learning English to impress women and to be able to talk to Victoria, his sister who was adopted by a family in America when she was a baby. But Yeong-ju thinks that Victoria is Moon-su's girlfriend and gives up fighting for her man of dreams...

Review: There is a special reason why romantic comedy isn't my prefered genre. Most of the time you actually get entertained, but almost always it is a very fleeting joy ride. How many of these movies you will still be remembering weeks later, without mixing the one with the other in your head, because of similar or same premises? Well, there are only very few...
It's the same with "Please teach me English". It's everything but a bad movie, yet the finale is predictable and the order of events is according to a well proven formula. If you can live with that you will be rewarded with some nice jokes, funny scenes and loveable characters.
Director Kim Sung-su who made a name for himself with the epic movie "Musa" (!), now has a bout at Korea's favorite genre and surely manages with his end product to please the masses. He even adds some well done visual tricks and ideas. Besides, he also can imbue his movie with the necessary charm, but for some "Please teach me English" will just be another one of those entertaining, yet not worth to be remembered romantic comedies, which hit the market on a weekly basis.

The plot is about the momentary boom of learning English in Korea. For obvious reasons (investments of foreign countries, international Million-Dollar-businesses etc.) learning English has become a must nowadays. Yet, it seems that in general a thorough knowledge of English isn't really to be found in Korea. Our female protagonist Yeong-ju also has to struggle with this new language. Nonetheless, when you hear the actors speak English at the end of the movie after all the advancement you have to ask yourself if Koreans really have that much of a problem with learning this language? Most likely the awkward (ab)use of grammer and missing conjugations are just supposed to be funny. Well, for Koreans it must have sound funny how Australien actress Angela Kelly used the Korean language. Even for me who doesn't speak any Korean, her words just didn't sound euphonious.
That's exactly what "PTME" is about, the struggling of learning a foreign language. Some of us will be reminded of our own experiences by some of the situations displayed and may laugh out loud every now and then. However, this is not a movie that wants to be of value in a linguistic sense, but the plot is merely a means to an end to bring together shy Yeong-ju and wannabe-playboy Moon-su.

Lee Na-young ("Who are you") was a good choice for the role of the shy, introverted young girl, who has nonetheless just one thing in mind - finally getting a boyfriend. The only question is who is supposed to be deceived by the glasses, the nonadvantageous hair styling and her way of dressing. Lee just looks great and those who doesn't instantly get aware of her charm are either blind or dead. Nevertheless, the filmmakers want to make us believe that of all the people Moon-su isn't interested in her. Well, whatever...
Jang Hyuk ("Volcano High") is also very convincing. Yet his character as it is the case with Lee's is just loaded with cliches. When Yeong-ju says in the course of the film that she is not interesting enough than we can only approve this. She is one-dimensionally drawn and this is a problem which all of the movie's characters share. Interestingly enough, this isn't that much of a problem for the viewer. Since the film is full of wacky and comic-like personalities, we are entertained, nonetheless. Characters with lots of in-depth just don't seem to be necessary.

Visually we can also stick to the description Comic. Kim Sung-su oftentimes implements animated sequences in his movie, of which some will make you frown, yet others can be incredibly funny. For example there is the scene when the grading test is visualized by a Videogame-Beat'em Up in the style of "Tekken". There are a lot of these wacky dream sequences that make "Please teach me English" very colourful and likeable. The more dramatic scenes of unrequited love are only rare and so the movie is mainly playing in a joyful, happy world, which gives you a warm feeling.

However, one of the sore points is the ending which loses itself in lots of cliches and is just too hackneyed. If the director would have avoided this and had given the two main protagonists more substance, "Please teach me English" could have had it what it takes to become an above average love story. The way it is, we just get an entertaining and solid movie without any lengths, that is recommendable for those who aren't looking for anything special or a message in a film. Sometimes it is just enough to be entertained for a few hours and Kim Sung-su manages to do exactly that even if there is nothing really new to be found here.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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