The body-swap comedy has a long history, from Freaky Friday to 17 Again; therefore, there is an inherent challenge in finding something fresh to offer an audience. However, South Korean director Hyo-jin Kang nearly achieves the unthinkable with his delightful mash up of almost every body-swap comedy created in The Dude In Me. Here, Kang injects his movie with a classic 80s rom-com vibe and layers this with light and bubbly humour that often shines. However, this is coupled with a constant sense of déjà vu that becomes tiresome toward the end.
Pan-Su is a high flying businessman and gangster, his successful company submerged in dark secrets, violence and bribery as he steamrolls anything in front of him. Standing in the way of his latest development is Jong-gi, the owner of a small carpentry shop, but Pan-Su isn’t about to let him spoil his fun and plans a visit to the owner with his henchmen. However, on the way to the shop Pan-Su decides to stop and visit an old haunt of his youth – a ramen restaurant that used to serve his favourite meal. But the joint has changed, with a mysterious new owner in charge. As Pan-Su orders, he looks around and spots an overweight and insecure high school boy, Dong-Hyun, making a quick escape without paying. But that’s just the start of the strange events that are about to invade Pan-Su’s day.
READ MORE: SEOBOK
On leaving the shop, Pan-Su hears a scuffle on the roof above, only to see the boy who fled the restaurant plummet from the roof and straight towards him. But things get weird when Pan-Su wakes up and realises he’s in the boy’s body.
There is frantic, bubbly and ferocious energy to the story that ensues as we are taken from one madcap moment to another in glorious technicolour; however, this energy wains toward the end in a movie that overstays its welcome. But with some genuinely engaging performances from Jinyoung Jung (Dong-Hyun), Sung-Woong Park (Pan-Su), Mi-ran Ra (Mi-Seon) and Kwang-Gyu Kim (Jong-gi), The Dude in Me keeps your attention even when you find yourself slightly drifting. In addition, Kang’s film contains moments of delightful satire as he unpicks themes of hierarchy, age and gender in a fun and engaging manner accessible to all. However, while it may be a delightfully fun ride, The Dude in Me fails to offer anything new and is quickly forgotten on leaving the theatre.
Director: Hyo-jin Kang
Cast: Jinyoung Jung, Kwang-gyu Kim, Joon-Hyuk Lee, Soo-min Lee, Sung-woong Park, Mi-ran Ra