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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Laughter in Waikiki" Episode 3

2018/02/12 | Permalink

One element I liked about the first episode was how the main characters were always in a state of panic about the guest house's financial viability. The guest house is, in addition to being their home, also their only reliable source of income. So I was just a tad annoyed that right away, we have Dong-goo and Seo-jin stumbling in and doing the one thing guest house proprietors should never do- make the guests feel like they have chosen the wrong place to stay.

The guest house aspect of the story is not well utilized. It's actually pretty ideal for a situation comedy, since the neverending stream of guests insures that random new conflicts can appear out of nowhere. Dong-goo and his film-minded friends could easily recruit them as extras for whatever movies they want to make. They could have possible scoops for the journalist-minded Seo-jin. And Yoon-ah has a baby, everybody reacts to babies.

Instead, writer Kim Ki-ho keeps coming up with generic gag setpieces that are only tangentially relevant to existing characterization. Apparently Joon-ki has a serious girlfriend. This is difficult to reconcile with that meaningful subtitle implying that he fell in love with Yoon-ah in the first episode. Although they do inevitably break up for the pettiest possible reason. Such pettiness also entirely defines the scenes focusing on Seo-jin's dating life.

But back to Joon-ki's big character conflict. The issue that ends up ruining Joon-ki's gig is one that you would think would be non-negotiable from the production company's point of view. I'm trying to imagine an actual drama trying to show a swimming competition scene like that, and I can't. "Laughter in Waikiki" itself doesn't even try to show the updated version of the scene, because it would look completely ridiculous, and a funnier joke than anything we actually see in the drama.

Soo-ah is another problem. She broke up with Dong-goo. Her reasons have been clearly explained on multiple occasions. Soo-ah has no reason to interact with the rest of the cast if she is not Dong-goo's girlfriend. But because Soo-ah is listed as a main cast member, she has to be worked into the story somehow, and so far her appearances have been very obviously contrived and unconvincing. Worse, they make the other characters look like jerks. Even besides Soo-ah, they are very aggressively terrible when it comes to their stated goal of cheering Dong-goo up.

Review by William Schwartz

"Laughter in Waikiki" is directed by Lee Chang-min-I, written by Kim Ki-ho, and features Kim Jung-hyun, Lee Yi-kyung, Son Seung-won, and Jung In-sun.

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