Andrew Garfield, Mahershala Ali, Ruth Negga, and five others received their first-ever acting nominations for 2017. While these actors are new to the Academy Awards, you may recognize them from their earlier work.
'The Weird Missing Case of Mr. J' is a very Korean comedy. It is strange, off-beat and full of quirks moments. Unlike most movies in the same vein, this one remains funny throughout. It flirts with drama on occasion but it never goes into full out tragedy.
The plot revolves the eponymous Jeong Seung-pil, an overworked yuppie who does not even have time to spend with his bride who is less than happy about his lack of involvement in planning for the incoming marriage. This leads to an argument, Seung-pil storms out of the bridal store and due to a series of accidents finds himself locked in a derelict bathroom and unable to escape.
The remaining movie is about the police looking for what they believe is a kidnapped Seung-pil, some dishonest reporters who are hyping the whole thing for the sake of ratings, the bride who turns out to be quite capable to kicking ass and Seung-pil's relatives who come all the way from the countryside. And here we have assembled an interesting representation of many Korean tropes, from the TV crew obsessed with profit to random people who are so eager to be famous that they will invent anything, without forgetting the crazy cop (in this case we have a woman hating policeman who blames females for everything ever since his girlfriend ran out on him with his money) to the country bumpkins who are clueless about Seoul.
These characters have some great interaction full of amusing moments made funnier especially as they go about trying to figure out just what happened to Jeung-pil. Add to this a busty yoga instructor giving a demonstration that has all cops and quite a few gangsters drooling and we are all set for slapstick.
What makes the movie oddly moving is Jeung-pil himself as he attempts to escape from his dreadful prison. He goes from stressed business man to desperate outcast. There are emotional breakdowns and his sanity is greatly shaken so that he starts hallucinating. This provides some of the strangest and best moments of the whole movie including a singing cockroach and sappy lyrics galore. It is brilliantly surreal.
The very end is surprising. It seems to mock romantic clichés and even make fun of the typical 'love saves' Deus ex machina but it is all done to keep the tone firmly in the comedy territory.
Overall, this movie is successful. It keeps the viewer's attention and even has suspense to counter the silliness. That it could have been a very tragic movie if only a few things were to change seems to be a deliberate choice and perhaps a mockery of Korean cinema's love for having tragey in most funny movies.
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