“You’re My Pet” is a Korean romantic comedy with a rather odd premise, revolving around a woman who takes in a strange young man on the basis that he acts like her pet dog, with love and laughter ensuing. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the film is based on a Japanese manga, Ogawa Yayoi’s “Kimi wa Petto” which ran from 2000-2005 and was filmed previously as a television series, with first time director Kim Byung Kon on board for the new Korean remake. The film was one of the more highly anticipated Korean releases of the year, partly due to its leading couple, with genre favourite Kim Ha Neul (“Blind”) and Korean Wave superstar Jang Keun Suk (“You’re Beautiful”) pairing up for the fun.
Kim Ha Neul plays Eun Yi, a high flying fashion editor, unlucky in love and not exactly well-liked by her colleagues, who ends up in an unconventional living arrangement when one of her brother’s friends is unceremoniously dumped on her. In Ho (Jang Keun Suk), the younger man question, is a dancer fallen on hard times, and being an eccentric fellow himself agrees to live with Eun Yi as her pet, even taking on the name Momo after her childhood dog. Needless to say, things quickly get complicated between the two, not least when Eun Yi’s old flame Woo Sung (Ryu Tae Joon, “Girl Scout”) comes back into her life.
Though “You’re My Pet” has a bizarre premise to say the least, it makes the leap well enough from the manga page to the screen thanks to director Kim not taking things too seriously. The film certainly never pretends to be anything other than light hearted entertaining nonsense, going for an all-out cutesy attack, with wacky humour and bright, cartoonish visuals throughout. This all works pretty well, and the film is amiably daft, managing to wring plenty of amusement from the situation, with lots of misunderstandings and slapstick pranking. Although the film is kind of uneven, shifting between anecdotal comedy set pieces and a variety of tangential subplots and supporting characters, it moves along at a surprisingly brisk pace. There’s constantly something quirky going on, and Kim holds the interest despite the film being a predictable affair, clearly from the word go leading up to the inevitable awkward moment when Eun Yi has to explain and justify her behaviour, viewers awaiting the answer to the time-old will they/won’t they question.
Whilst there’s very little emotional substance here, the film gets a lot of mileage out of its likeable lead couple and the silly, shifting dynamic between them. Their relationship is all the more interesting for being one of the oddest in a Korean romantic comedy for some time, there being something almost kinky about the way in which Eun Yi as an older woman dominates In Ho, a large amount of the film being taken up with her abusing or beating him, none of which he seems to mind much. Though the film isn’t terribly romantic as a result, there’s a definite and enjoyable chemistry between Kim Ha Neul and Jang Keun Suk, both of whom are on game and appealing form, and the tension that gradually builds makes things livelier and more fun than it might had been had it taken a more traditional route.
“You’re My Pet” does work better as a comedy than a romance, though this really is not a bad thing by any means, and it makes for a pleasant and offbeat couple of hours, Kim Byung Kon proving a perfectly capable helmer. Kim Ha Neul is always worth watching, and fans of her or Jang Keun Suk will likely find plenty to enjoy.
Byeong-gon Kim (director) / Yayoi Ogawa (screenplay)
CAST: Ha-Neul Kim … Ji Eun-i
Geun-seok Jang … Kang In-ho
Tae-Joon Ryu … Cha Woo-seong
Yu-mi Jeong … Lee Yeong-eun
Jong-hun Choi … Ji Eun-soo
Ha-neul Kang … Yang Yeong-soo
Na-eun Go … Kim Jin-ah
Seo-won Cha … Min Ji-min