This month’s movie is one that, no matter how many times I watch it, I just can’t seem to get enough. It’s zany and hilarious with just enough sweetness to make your heart happy and a touch of reality just painful enough to leave you feeling like maybe, just maybe, there was a valuable life lesson learned along the way. In short, it’s just a really great film and one I think pretty much everyone will enjoy.
Filmed back in 2013, Miss Granny, was released in January 2014 and ranked second in sales on its opening weekend, falling just behind Disney’s insanely popular Frozen. As if opening so well wasn’t enough of a surprise, the film went on to rank number 13 on the list of highest grossing films in South Korea after just 8 weeks. From there the film went on to receive 29 various award nominations, 13 of which it won, including awards for Best Actress, Best Screenplay, Best Producer and Best Music. Though it’s been almost 3 years since the film first hit the silver screen, it still comes in at number 21 on the list of highest grossing Korean films of all-time and has spawned nearly half a dozen remakes which have been met with varying levels of popularity across Asia.
With so much hype surrounding the film upon its release, it’s natural to wonder what in the world made it so insanely popular. After all, the cast lineup isn’t one you’d normally expect to find in a blockbuster film, there is no Gong Yoo or Lee Min Ho to draw in the crowds, and the basic plot of the story is one that’s been told about a million times before, in one way or another. In essence, the story is about an elderly woman, Oh Mal Soon (Na Moon Hee) who begins to feel unwanted and unloved, as her family talks about sending her to live at a nursing home after her recently hospitalized daughter-in-law is instructed to decrease the stress in her life. Feeling unwelcome at home, Mal Soon decides to roam the streets of Seoul and eventually happens upon a photography studio that claims to recapture one’s youth. Thinking she ought to take a nice photo for her funeral, Mal Soon walks inside 74-year-old grandma and comes out a 20-year-old beauty.
With a plot summary that immediately brings to mind films such as 17 Again and dramas like Mr. Baek, you know right away how the story of Miss Granny is going to unfold. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the journey. Re-naming herself after her favorite Hollywood star, Audrey Hepburn, Oh Doo Ri (Shim Eun Kyung) decides to seize this second chance at life and live it to the fullest. Despite being young and free, Doo Ri can’t quite seem to let go of the family and friends she tries to leave behind, as she winds up living in the house of the man who has loved her since they were kids and inadvertently captures the heart of both her grandson, Ban Ji Ha (B1A4’s Jinyoung) and a handsome TV music producer, Han Seung Woo (Lee Jin Wook). As you can imagine, being the object of three men’s affection makes things more than a little interesting but Doo Ri, being the feisty 70 year-old that she is, knows how to handle these boys’ shenanigans.
As fun as it is to watch Doo Ri become the object of both Ban Ji Ha and Han Seung Woo’s affection, my heart can’t help but break a bit for Doo Ri. As the story unfolds, we begin to catch glimpses of Mal Soo’s life, the difficulties she faced, having to raise her son as a poor, single mother. It’s this backstory that makes my heart break for Mal Soo. Knowing that it’s been over 50 years since her heart fluttered with romantic love is a sad thing. Sure, she’s had her son and his family by her side but to never love and be loved as anything but a mother and grandmother has to have been so very hard. Maybe that’s why watching her fall for a man she can never really be with get to me as much as it does. It’s so sweet, watching her old heart flutter, but at the same time it’s so sad because you know it’s a relationship that will never actually go anywhere.
Beyond the messy love lines, what I really love about Miss Granny is the fact that Oh Doo Ri is a hilarious and completely over-the-top character but she also has a lot of depth. Having lived a very full life, she has a lot of wisdom to impart to those around her and I love that the lessons she’s able to teach ultimately better the lives of those around her. She’s the heart and soul of this story, she’s the backbone, she’s the catalyst for change, not only in her own life but in the lives of everyone around her and I love the gentle reminder that we can all have an equally profound impact on the lives of people around us, whether we realize it or not. As great as all of this is, it still seems very sad to me that it takes an insane body swap and a chance to live a new life to make Mal Soo and her family truly appreciate each other. It makes me wonder just how much in my own life I take for granted, simply because I never take the time to step back and look at my life as a whole. Am I as guilty of being as self-centered as Mal Soo is when this story begins? It’s a painful question to ask but at the same time, it’s that heartbreaking reality that drives home the point of this story. Without these questions popping up between musical numbers and general hilarity, this film would leave us with nothing but a bunch of fluff and nonsense; which wouldn’t be a bad thing, it just wouldn’t have the depth that makes it so great.
I’m always a fan of a film that not only keeps you entertained but also leaves you feeling as if you’ve just learned some valuable life-lesson. Which is exactly what Miss Granny does. As silly and ridiculous as it is at times, it’s also a very good lesson on appreciating what you have and not taking the people in your life for granted. We all have faults, we all make mistakes, but we also have the ability to see past those short-comings and love unconditionally, which is something we tend to forget, especially when it comes to those with whom we’re the closest. While we may not all have the chance to go back and re-live our 20’s, sometimes we do need to take a step back and refocus our attention on the bigger picture, rather than nit-picking over all the little things that tend to drive us crazy. Like whether or not we put radish on both the bottom and the top of our fish stew…
If you’re a fan of silly plots, insanely adorable characters, good music and slight tugs on your heartstrings, you’re really going to love this movie. Like I said earlier, I’ve watched this movie several times and every time I watch it, I fall in love with it all over again. There’s just something about the cast and the chemistry between them, the lighthearted story-telling, the music and (let’s be honest) the surprise cameo at the end, that makes me absolutely love this film. It really is a perfect combination of fun and fluffy with just enough of a reality check to send you away feeling completely satisfied and also slightly more thankful for the good things in life, which is why I’m telling you to go watch it. Like right now! Okay, so maybe not right now… But soon! You should definitely watch it soon. Of course once you do (or if you’re like me and have watched it many times over) you should let me know what you think by leaving me a comment below!