Less is More in the Endearingly Broad Wedding Palace
You could think of Christine Yoo's Wedding Palace as My Big Fat Korean Wedding. Affectionately based on mores and mythology specific to the peninsula, it tells of a 29-year-old named Jason (Brian Tee, late of the Fast and Furious franchise) who has to tie the knot before his next birthday lest a family curse strike him dead. Jilted at the altar, his survival instinct leads him to the motherland in order to find a bride who will see it through. Yoo's broadly drawn characters are less ha-ha funny than endearingly over-the-top, their exaggerated mannerisms rooted in fondness as much as mockery. Whether intentional or not, the visceral centerpiece is as an oddly affecting moment in which our hero happens upon his bride-to-be singing karaoke by her lonesome. The song she sings is catchy, syrupy sweet, and a little ridiculous; it's also a better distillation of the longing that spurs every rom-com than any of Wedding Palace's more dialogue-heavy scenes. (It's offset, however, by a later musical montage that tries much harder and accomplishes little.) Less tends to be more in this sort of movie, and Wedding Palace is at its best when it isn't so eager to please. One case in point: Brian's trip to Korea offers a low-key take on what it means to be from more than one place and struggle to reconcile the two—a notion that ends up being more romantic than some of the film's actual romance.
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