A refreshing romantic comedy that’s both romantic and genuinely funny
Not all of us ladies are programmed to love romantic comedies and I proudly count myself in that minority. Being a genre girl at heart, I always anticipate seeing the grittier films – especially horror and revenge – and The Asian Film Festival of Dallas had plenty of films on its schedule that I was looking forward to. Because of this deep seated disdain for chick flicks, it came to a huge surprise to me that the films I enjoyed most from AFFD opening weekend were romantic comedies, Wedding Palace being one of them.
Wedding Palace takes place in modern day Los Angeles and follows a hilarious Korean American family. Namely Jason, whose misfortunes in luck and love have been determined by a mishap at a traditional Korean ceremony when he was only one year old; his family is scared that if he doesn’t get married by the age of 30, he’ll die. Jason’s family is happy with him while he’s engaged to Jinnie, a woman who is obviously completely wrong for him, but when the wedding proves disastrous his mother dedicates herself to finding her son a bride.
Jason travels to Korea for work and has multiple chance encounters with a beautiful and intriguing woman named Na-Young. They are so taken with each other that they continue their relationship even after Jason returns home to LA. After countless phone calls and video chat dates, Jason proposes to Na-Young and she begins planning her move across the Pacific Ocean. His family begins planning the wedding, but chaos ensues when Na-Young arrives with a very unexpected characteristic.
Wedding Palace is written and directed by Christine Yoo, and is also her first feature length film. The script is sharp, witty, fun, and includes a gangster Korean granny and really funny animated sequences. She has created some of the most enjoyable onscreen chemistry in a romantic comedy that I’ve ever seen too, with Brian Tee (The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift) and Hye-Jeong Kang (Oldboy). She also has a marvelous eye for color and the film celebrates the bright colors of the Korean culture.
Yoo happened to be in attendance at the AFFD screening that I attended, and during the Q&A many audience members commented on how pitch perfectly she captured the Korean American family dynamic. I have no experience with this personally, but I can say that the Jason’s family dynamic was hyperactive, overbearing, nerve-wracking, and completely entertaining to watch. Margaret Cho even makes an appearance as a distant family member.
While it may be a little over the top in its logic, Wedding Palace was incredibly irresistible. Being such a romantic comedy hater comes back to bite me every once in awhile. The good ones are so few and far between that I forget how good the good ones really are. It’s refreshing to watch a romantic comedy that is both romantic and genuinely funny. Wedding Palace has become one of my personal favorite movies at AFFD this year.
Director: Christine Yoo
Notable Cast: Brian Tee, Hye-jeong Kang, Joy Osmanski, Bobby Lee
Writer(s): Christine Yoo, Derek Draper, Robert Gardner