Seen in Jeonju

Hearty Paws 2 (2010)

9th November 2010

_PRODU~4Ugh– for the second night in a row, I have left the box office information in my office. I will have to post it tomorrow morning when I go in to school. In the meantime, I will post the article that I wrote for the November issue of Asiana Entertainment.  When I write for AE, I do not get to choose the film. Contents of the magazine are naturally limited to what is being shown on the flights. The only stipulation I have is that they only assign me Korean films. This condition came about after I had been assigned, and I refused to view/write about, Beverly Hills Chihuahua back in 2008. The prime purpose of the airplane magazine is entertainment, not critique and no one wants to read that the movies featured on a given flight are not very good. So, when I when I am assigned a movie I do not particularly care for–like when I was given The Sword With No Name or, years ago, Dragon Wars– I find a good point about the film and expand on that. I would love to give a more truthful opinion, but I also want to be published. I knew I was going to be in trouble when the editor assigned me to write a review for Hearty Paws 2. I knew that it was definitely NOT my style of movie. Now, I have written about several animated films on this site which I have loved. And I fully admit to willingly purchasing and, this past Monday night, watching Sparkman–a Shim Hyeong-rae live-action childrens movie from 1988 which I will probably get around to writing about here at some point. However, those seem different to me. Those are viewed for research purposes, part of a film history that I want to know more about.  Maybe, after thirty years, I will be happy to see Hearty Paws 2, but I have might doubts.  It is a shame too, because the original Hearty Paws is surprisingly good- with a heart-breaking end. But (as a mention in the below review), given the end, a true sequel is impossible and Hearty Paws 2 deviates far from its predecessor.   What I wrote for Asiana Entertainment appears below.The key phrase to keep in mind is that this movie “captures the imagination of preschoolers.” 

From Asiana Entertainment vol. 16, no. 11:  It is unusual to enjoy a non-animated Korean film that can be enjoyed by the youngest members of a family. Although Korean cinema offers entertaining viewing and beautiful and often tragic stories, rarely are screenplays written with small children in mind. However, Hearty Paws 2, with its loveable dogs and simple action, fills this niche. It is sure to capture the attention and imagination of preschoolers while keeping parents happy knowing that their children are watching a wholesome film wherein a happy end is guaranteed.

The name of the dog in the film is Maeumi, which is also the Korean name of the movie. That, and the fact that the pooch is played by the same animal actor, are the only connections the movie Hearty Paws 2 has with the original 2006 film. The sad ending of the first film left it impossible to make a true sequel. Hearty Paws 2 departs from the heavy drama of the original to a light comic tone which has much more in common with Home Alone than Old Yeller. The story revolves around a clever mother dog, her attentive owner Dong-wook and her litter of fluffy white puppies. When a pair of bumbling jewel thieves steals one of Maeumi’s pups, the courageous canine goes on a frantic chase through the countryside in an effort to reclaim him. Naturally, the robbers are not willing to part with their prize, so Maeumi ensures that she will get their attention focused on her by devouring their stash of diamonds. This leads the dim-witted burglars chasing the precocious dog into the woods where a lively game of hide-and-seek ensues and where encounters with a wild pig and a poisonous snake help alter the course of the game.

As mentioned earlier, this film is certainly suitable for children. Even though the dognappers speak threateningly about what they will do if they catch Maeumi, there is never any sense of real danger and most children will not be frightened. Even the CGI snake is rendered in such a way that it does not seem realistic enough to be dangerous and only the youngest children may be scared. Any violence in the film, such as when the asp bites one of the four-legged characters, is implied. We never see the actions that might be too scary for kids, only the aftermath–much of which is handled comically.

Most of the human characters play second fiddle to the cleverness of Maeumi and the cute antics of her adorable puppies. Not enough can be said about just how cute the young puppies in this film are. Their inquisitive looks, pudgy little bodies and charming smiles will make everyone want to own one of these dogs. As in Lassie, the animals do not talk, however they act in such a way that they appear human and what they are trying to say is easily understood. Hearty Paws 2 is a fun, action-filled romp–a family film that will leave you with a smile on your face.

End magazine review: Huh.. reading that, the movie doesn’t sound half-bad. BUT it is definitely NOT for adults.  If I had little kids, I might buy the DVD to put on for them to watch, but adults will be left slightly dazed by all the cuteness and child-oriented slapstick in this film.

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