Friday, July 10, 2015

Film Review: Twenty (2015)

Twenty (Review)
Lee Byeong-hun/Kim Woo-bin, Lee Joon-ho/2015
Where to watch:
Netflix Instant
Amazon Prime

"...a hilarious examination and celebration of youth."

Friends Chi-ho (Kim Woo-bin), Dong-woo (Lee Jong-ho), and Kyung-jae (Kang Ha-neul) stick together and persevere through their roaring twenties...
Twenty follows this quirky trio of friends through their early twenties. Kim Chi-ho is the slacker player of the group — content with living the day sitting still and partying the night away. Kyung-jae attends college and quickly makes a drunken fool of himself, while capturing the attention of the beautiful and financially-talented Jin-ju (Min Hyo-rin). Meanwhile, Dong-woo works multiple jobs and repeats his last year of school in hopes of becoming a comic book artist, while trying to support his suddenly impoverished family. Together and apart, the group go through several trials and tribulations – usually ending in hilarity. The film leads to a hilariously epic slapstick climax; however, it does sort of land on your lap from thin air, really barely being built up since it utilizes characters you only see for a few seconds in an earlier scene. Regardless, the entire film ends on a high-note.

Twenty is a very quirky and energetic comedy with few flaws. The plot takes a while to get on its feet, but it eventually starts to get into its flow — stick with it and you'll be greatly rewarded. Although the trio spend plenty of time together, they're usually separated and handling their own issues. I didn't mind this approach since it gave us a more personalized experience, but I did feel there was a lack of balance. We see a lot of Chi-ho and Kyung-jae, but we really don't see as much from Dong-woo — and Dong-woo is easily eclipsed by Kyung-jae's hilarious little sister, So-hee (Lee Yu-bi). It's not a significant complaint, but a minor oversight, I suppose. The film is also a bit on the lengthy side, particularly due to some dragged out and unnecessary scenes. Again, though, it doesn't completely tarnish the experience, but you can see how these flaws could pile on.

On the other hand, Twenty is a hilarious examination and celebration of youth. Looking past some of its flaws, you'll find a very energetic, quirky, and even raunchy comedy. Although it tends to stick to the same mood, it never really felt repetitive. In fact, the further the film progressed, the louder I laughed. Chi-ho's “Invasion of Planet Penis” had me in stitches, So-hee's crass examination of male masturbation was amusing, and I won't forget the slapstick climax any time soon. It does have a few common clich├ęs, like the general formula and the sex jokes, but it really ends up working for the film. I certainly knew where the film was headed (the all-is-lost/sullen moment is common in these types of comedies), but the execution made it feel more organic and original — or at least more tolerable. Although it's not a traditional rom com, there are also some effective and appreciated romance element throughout.

Twenty is led by a youthful, talented cast. Kim Woo-bin, who I suspect will be a fan favorite among fans of “cutesy” comedy, delivers an energetic and occasionally eccentric performance. Lee Jong-ho and Kang Ha-neul aren't as quirky, but they certainly match Woo-bin's energy. The supporting cast, such as Min Hyo-rin and Lee Yu-bi, are also splendid. What could have been a more offensive and generic comedy is made more lively and relatable thanks to the cast. Otherwise, the film is technically great. It's shot well and there is great selection of music. Writer and director Lee Byeong-hun captures the uncertain and often eccentric energy of youth. The dilemmas, serious or lighthearted, work well in developing the characters. These situations also conjure plenty of versatile laughs – the quips, gags, slapstick, and raunchy humor blend together for something truly entertaining.

Overall, Twenty is a great film. As I've said, it's a quirky, raunchy, and energetic celebration of youth. It's filled to the brim with laugh-out-loud moments. Its quirky humor is further bolstered by the splendid cast. There may be a few issues with the narrative – particularly some balance and pacing issues – but I ultimately had a lot of fun. If you're looking for something funny and don't mind some raunchy gags, then I highly recommend Twenty.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and strong sexual references. (There's the slapstick fight and an entire segment dedicated to a fictional film titled “Invasion of Planet Penis,” if that helps.)

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