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Baby and I
Baby and I

Kim Byeol, Jang Geun-Sook, and little Mason Moon in Baby and I.
  Korean: 아기와 나
Year: 2008  
Director: Kim Jin-Yeong  

Choi Won, Lee Seong-Min-I


Jang Geun-Seok, Mason Moon, Kim Byeol, Ko Gyoo-Pil, Choi Jae-Hwan, Kim Byeong-Ok, Park Hyeon-Sook, Jeong Gyoo-Soo, Jang Jeong-Hee, Kim Jeong-Nan, Park Myeong-Soo (voice)

  The Skinny:

Man, that is one cute baby. Too bad about the movie.

by Kozo:
According to Anime News Network, the South Korean comedy Baby and I takes its inspiration from Marimo Ragawa's Baby and Me, a nineties Japanese manga about a grade school kid who helps raise his baby brother after their mother passes away. The film loosely features the same concept as the manga, but it keeps the mother alive, ages the kid from grade school to high school, and changes the plot device that makes him into the baby's guardian. Before it was necessity and unforeseen tragedy, now it's teen pregnancy and sitcom family dynamics. The whole point of the manga - a look at an adolescent raising a child - is not present anymore, so it's hard to even consider this an adaptation. Also, Baby and I is probably not worth mentioning to fans of the manga because really, it's not very good.

Who might like Baby and I? Probably teenage girls, who should be delighted with protagonist Joon-Su (played by hot idol Jang Geon-Seok), a transparently manufactured rebel who rides motorcycles and is so cute that girls swoon at the sight of him. Joon-Su is a righteous dude who's good in a fight, rebellious towards lame school authority figures, and ultimately quite caring for his new son. The baby, named Woo-Ram (super-cute Mason Moon), is revealed to be the product of one of Joon-Su's numerous teen affairs. One evening while Joon-Su is at the grocery store, he finds Woo-Ram in his shopping cart, with the person who left him nowhere to be seen. How is this irresponsible, too-cool-for-school dude supposed to handle this?

Sadly, Joon-Su can't ask his parents for help because they've run away from home, choosing to secretly live in a 24-hour spa because they're tired of their son's rebelliousness. With little choice, Joon-Su must care for the tyke, while also trying to attend school and earn some dough. Can Joon-Su deal with Woo-Ram? Will his parents come back? Will Joon-Su return the affections of cute and kooky Kim Byeol (Kim Byeol), a teen genius who has the hots for him and is willing to babysit Woo-Ram? And will Joon-Su reform and quit being the causeless rebel he tries to be? As you'd expect from a manufactured commercial film, these conflicts are settled with the most obvious clichés possible. Really, provided the above outline, you can write the rest of the movie. Go ahead. It's pretty easy.

Still, given the film's target audience - that is, undemanding teen girls - Baby and I gets some leeway. The acting is average, the plot predictable, and the comedy uninspired, with the laughs usually punctuated by one character loudly getting annoyed at another. The actual fun factor in this is mild, but I won't mark that as a flaw because the leads are pretty and the commercial themes are easy to agree with. The plot here is standard, but that's fine as long as the filmmakers manage some competent storytelling and provide more than a few decent laughs.

Okay, that's it for the leeway - now on to the problems. The film's situations, while acceptable, are rendered unconvincingly. The film simply announces its plot points instead of developing them. Joon-Su grows to care for Woo-Ram, but we never get a sense of how it happens. Everything happens in a perfunctory fashion, from Joon-Su caring for Woo-Ram, to Joon-Su shaping up his act, to his reconciliation with his parents, to his eventual acceptance of Kim Byeol. The film doesn't try to fool us into believing that any outcome other than the most expected one will happen. One or two things do occur that could qualify as unexpected, but the twists only seem to pad out the running time. Also, the film's final scene is pointless, and attempts an irony that isn't supported enough to be felt or even funny. I could go on and on.

The worst thing about Baby and I: there's not enough baby. Little Mason Moon is super-adorable, but he's little more than a plot device. The film does wring some comedy from the baby's inner voice; comedian Park Myeong-Soo voices Woo-Ram's thoughts, and the device is sometimes amusing in that Look Who's Talking kind of way. Unfortunately, the baby's voice is only used for minor commentary, and doesn't help the story at all. The film eventually settles into predictable melodrama and maudlin sentimentality (complete with at least three scenes where Jang Geon-Seok tears up), leaving arguably its biggest selling point - that is, the baby - absent from the action. If the goal of the entire film was selling Jang Geon-Seok to his review-proof fanbase, then mission accomplished. However, as a movie, Baby and I doesn't come close to making the grade. (Kozo 2008)

  Availability: DVD (Korea)
Region 3 NTSC
SM Pictures
2-DVD Special Edition
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Korean Language Track
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Korean subtitles
Various extras
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