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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Strong Family" Episodes 31-32


The plot is very fractured over these two episodes. We get a lot of brief jokes that seem like they're going to lead to broader themes, although they stop almost as soon as they start. The closest we get is the bookend of episode thirty-two, which I admittedly thought was pretty funny because of course Cheon-il's dream world looks like a high school theater stage set. If you haven't had dreams like that, I don't know what to tell you.

Elsewhere, a chance encounter forces Gwi-nam to come clean to Jeong-min about his past. It's an interesting miscalculation on his part, because even though Gwi-nam's actions are clearly intended to demonstrate his utmost confidence in Jeong-min's potential as a romantic partner, she has a different interpretation. And it's hard to really begrudge her for that, since Jeong-min explains her frustrations very well, even if I, personally, think she's being a bit unfair.

Ik-hee, by contrast, is still a stupid teenager who doesn't know how to talk about serious stuff, and I like how she seems to be slowly careening to romantic disaster. It is, on one end, nice that she is able to talk about her frustrations with Yoon, and it is nice how Ik-hee in turn is able to learn some important information that directly concerns her. But alas, Ik-hee is badly in need of decent advice about how exactly to go about solving this problem.

And of course she can't talk to her her parents about it. In the first place, as a teenager, Ik-hee of course thinks her parents opinions don't matter for anything. But then there's also more tangible reasons. Consider how her mother and father manage to keep accidentally creating messes for each other with well-intentioned advice. Or how Cheon-il's attempt to protect Ik-hee doesn't go at all well, even if we do get sweet father/daughter bonding by the end.

For a situation comedy "Strong Family" is trying to hit the climax as best as it can, given the relatively low stakes situations. And I like what we're building up to in pretty much all of the various plotlines. The cardinal sin of "Strong Family" remains, as usual, relative mediocrity when it comes to the construction of the jokes. But hey, the drama's always been hit and miss. The opening story about Cheon-il's head injury was pretty funny anyway. Ah, if only we could be that cool in real life...

Review by William Schwartz

"Strong Family" is directed by Choi Moon-seok, written by Jin Yeong and features Park Hyuk-kwon, Park Sun-young, Kim Ji-min, Uhm Hyo-sup, Park Hee-von, Kim Ki-ri and Lee Ho-won.

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