Friday, September 28, 2007
South Korean Monster Mash
Check it—The Host (Magnolia, $27.00, 119 minutes), an astute an ingenious (and absolutely hilarious) monster movie from South Korean director Joon-ha Bong. A young girl (the films’ most together character, an 11-year-old) is whiffed away from the shores of Seoul’s Han River by a primordial lizard/fish/mutant, which prompts the missing girl’s highly dysfunctional family (prole granddad, slacker father, arrogant college boy uncle, psychologically-off Olympic athlete auntie) into a slapdash search and destroy party. Add to the mix bad scientists, clueless doctors, scheming South Korean officials, officious American military figures, youthful protesters, and a whole passel of everyday South Korean peeps serving as monster bait and you’ve got a whale of a good time. The movie, hugely popular at home, and an art house hit here, is a kitchen sink juxtaposition of family comedy, digital monster movie, paranoid big-brother-is-screwing-up fable, and a pulpy action banger. The movie flows artfully from somberness to farcical (think Larry Cohen or George Romero meet David Cronenberg), and it fares equally well as a social satire, slapstick comedy, and monster mash. Highly entertaining.