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[MOVIE REVIEW] 'Girl Scout' short on comedy, long on realism

2008/05/27 | 906 views | Permalink | Source

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Life is tough, especially money-wise, for these four women.

Mi-kyeong (Kim Sun-ah) confronts one financial setback after another. Lee-man (Na Mun-hee) barely makes a living working at a store for a meager salary. Bong-sun (Lee Kyung-shil) struggles to find the money for her son's surgery. Eun-ji (Go Joon-hee) is saddled with deepening debt.

The women, aged from 20s to 60s, do not need extra troubles given their dire financial conditions, but the accidental nature of life does not leave them alone. In fact, an unexpected turn of events has all of them running, screaming and fighting all the way through the end of the film.

The story development highlights a private cooperative fund, known as "kye" in Korean. This collective installment savings system, still popular among Korean housewives, has one tiny problem -- the lack of security.

In general, a single "kye" master manages the collection and management of the entire funds, and each member take turns getting a large sum of money on a monthly basis. If that master turns greedy and takes off with the money while the payment cycle is still under way, all the innocent members -- those who pay the monthly fees in hopes of getting the lump sum later -- end up empty-handed.

Mi-kyeong, Lee-man, and Bong-sun belong to the innocent camp, which means their precious savings are gone. Together with their younger acquaintance Eun-ji, the three women set out to track down the beauty parlor owner Hye-ran (Im Ji-eun), a former kye master who has the guts to vanish with the money.

So far, so good. As far as realism is concerned, the storyline up to this point has not deviated too much from the reality often documented and reported in the Korean media. A logical jump happens when the four self-styled Girl Scout members go off on the woman-hunt. They drive their yellow mini-van to the front yard of a cafe in Misari, Gyeonggi Province, a place that the beauty parlor owner is said to frequent.

True to the spirit of girl scouts, the four women set up an outdoor camp in the front yard of the cafe. They cook, roast and drink as if the yard is their backyard. Miraculously, neither the cafe owner nor the police make any forceful move toward the girl scouts.

While the girl scouts have a field day, Hye-ran is hatching another plan to line her already bloated pockets. She has a boyfriend named Hong-ki (Park Won-sang), a trickster who snatches up bundles of money through embezzlement. In Hye-ran's calculation, Hong-ki's money can be turned into hers, if he falls into her trap.

Hye-ran's well-organized scheme, however, gets disrupted when the four fearsome women spot Hye-ran at the cafe, leading to a wild chase scene where bags of money get exchanged several times. A hired goon (Lee Jong-dae) also gets involved in the head-spinning hunt for money, creating a complex game of cat and mouse.

But the chase-the-money plot should not detract curious moviegoers. Although this film is packaged as a comedy and the cast members are fully qualified to evoke laughs, the actually outcome is far from a comedy.

All the four women in the yellow mini-van bellow out their troubles in a fashion that is hardly delightful. Even the baddies seem too serious, adding to unwarranted realism that drags down the tone of the film. Is there anyone who would take a movie titled "Girl Scout" seriously?

By Yang Sung-jin

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