When we're first introduced to Dae-gyoo (played by Im Chang-jung), the man is rather...uncouth. As in, Dae-gyoo is telling a woman about how the person he hates more than anyone else in the world is his father, as implicit justification for his handing over a small sum of money to be used for, well, presumably some sort of procedure that would prevent Dae-gyoo from becoming a father. Then he meets In-kwon (played by Lee In-sung), a generally obnoxious child who soon proves to be Dae-gyoo's nemesis as they travel Jeolla province, somewhat inconveniently, without a car.
Yes, "Cracked Eggs and Noodlss" is of that common genre favorite- the road movie. But Dae-gyoo and In-kwon do not actually travel rural Jeolla so much as they do each other's hearts. Which ends up taking awhile. Considering how In-kwon has to resort to repeated public shaming just to prevent Dae-gyoo from abandoning him, well, it's little surprise that their relationship is a work in progress. For quite some time it's gratifying just to watch Dae-gyoo fail repeatedly one way or another.
Then something magical happens. We slowly start to root for Dae-gyoo because he starts being less about minimum obligation and more about just doing a good job for the sake of doing a good job. Consider how Dae-gyoo's makes money through record sales of dubious reputation. Dae-gyoo got interested in this field through an initial interest in music. This is not something we would guess from Dae-gyoo's generally juvenile behavior.
"Cracked Eggs and Noodles" explores parenthood by just posing this as a hypothetical. What if you could not run away from people, or just exchange them for less needy versions, because they won't go away? That's what defines Dae-gyoo's relationship with In-kwon. In many ways In-kwon is a mirror of Dae-gyoo, exposing Dae-gyoo's general frustration and helplessness at the whims of higher powers. It is only through genuinely bonding that the inevitable tragedies of life become bearable.
...And yep, those inevitable tragedies are of the melodramatic variety. In all fairness "Cracked Eggs and Noodles" doesn't hit us over the head with this stuff right away. Dae-gyoo is given quite a bit of time to react to the bad news that sets off the movie's second half, and his ability to make the best of a bad situation is a lot of what fuels his redemption. Dae-gyoo decides to be a good person, not out of the promise of reward, but because that's the right thing to do.
There's something ennobling about watching the generally proud Dae-gyoo humble himself in desperation. It gives the character desperately needed humanity, which may have been better spent on cuter scenes, where In-kwon is cheerfully cooking a custom pot of ramen. Overall "Cracked Eggs and Noodles" is a pretty basic entry in the cheers and tears format of cinema. The comedy is more from situations than it is from real jokes. It has plenty of heart, though, which is what really matters when the subject matter centers around emotional bonding.
Review by William Schwartz
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via email@example.com.
"[HanCinema's Film Review] "Cracked Eggs and Noodles" + DVD Giveaway"
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