The body-swap comedy has a long history, from Freaky Friday to 17 Again; therefore, there is an inherent challenge in finding something fresh. However, South Korean director Kang Hyo-jin nearly achieves the unthinkable with his delightful mash-up of almost every body-swap comedy created with The Dude In Me as he injects his movie with classic 80s rom-com vibes. But there is also a constant sense of déjà vu that ultimately becomes tiresome toward the end.
Jang Pan-Su (Park Sung-woong) is a high-flying businessman and gangster with a successful company that is submerged in dark secrets, violence and bribery. His latest property development is all but certain, but Jong-gi, the owner of a small carpentry shop, stands in his way. However, Jang Pan-Su isn’t about to let him spoil his fun and visits the shop with his henchmen in tow to ‘convince’ Jong-gi of his errors. But on the way, things are about to get freaky as he visits an old haunt of his youth – a ramen restaurant that used to serve his favourite meal.
Frantic, bubbly and ferocious energy surrounds Hyo-jin Kang’s body-swap comedy 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 Jung Jinyoung, Ra Mi-ran, and Kim Kwang-gyu, The Dude in Me keeps your attention even when you find yourself drifting. Kang Hyo-jin’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; it’s just a shame these themes don’t quite last the distance.
Director: Hyo-jin Kang
Cast: Jinyoung Jung, Kwang-gyu Kim, Joon-Hyuk Lee, Soo-min Lee, Sung-woong Park, Mi-ran Ra