Korea, she is known as Oh Mal-soon. In China, she is Meng Li Jun. She is about
to pop up again in Vietnam as Mrs. Dai, with Japanese doppelganger waiting in
the wings. This time around, Korea’s popular Miss Granny gets a Vietnamese remake in Phan Gia Nhat Linh’s Sweet 20 (trailer here), which opens today in Los Angeles.
me if you heard this before. Miss Dai is a real handful of a mother-in-law, who
literally worries her daughter-in-law sick. When the poor woman is finally
hospitalized for exhaustion, Miss Dai starts to feel some judgmental vibes from
her family. Walking the streets in an Edward Hopper kind of mood, Miss Dai
wanders into a mysterious photo studio. She wanders out restored to her perky
self at twenty.
Miss Dai tries to avoid her friends and family, but she when her spoiled grandson
hears her rock an open mic, he recruits her for his scuffling back. Transforming
them from punk rock hacks into a straight-laced pop group, Thanh Nga (as she
now calls herself) attracts the eye of a handsome music producer, both
professionally and romantically. The leads to some awkward jealousy from her
grandson and Brother Be, the torch-carrying old crony who knows her secret.
of like Fincher’s slavish remake of the Swedish Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, if you’ve seen the previous 20 Once Again (or presumably the Korean
original), you essentially know exactly where Sweet 20 is headed, beat for beat. Miu Le is appealing cute and
goofy as the newly young Thanh Nga, but maybe not quite as winning as Yang
Zishan. However, the musical numbers are less saccharine and more nostalgically
retro. Doi Thu also offers greater emotional substance as the long suffering
daughter-in-law, whereas the ugly duckling jokes directed at Brother Be’s
daughter Duyen (played by Thu Trang) are unfair and frankly not even based on
Still, first time helmer Phan keeps the two-hour
plus film moving along and the sentimental pop songs are rather pleasant.
Obviously, this concept works, considering Sweet
20 is now the highest grossing domestically produced film at the Vietnamese
box office. It is nice to have some Vietnamese cinema in theaters, but two Miss Granny remakes might be enough for
casual viewers (we can probably at least sit out the Japanese and Thai
versions, maybe returning for the Indonesian Oh/Meng/Dai). Recommended for
first time viewers as a heartfelt rom com, Sweet
20 opens today (3/11) at the Regal Garden Grove Stadium.
Labels: Miss Granny, Remakes, Vietnamese Cinema