Even star's likeability cannot save film

Cha Tae Hyun plays five personalities in the film.
Cha Tae Hyun plays five personalities in the film. PH0TO: CLOVER FILMS

REVIEW / COMEDY MELODRAMA

BECAUSE I LOVE YOU (PG13)

110 minutes/Opens tomorrow/2.5/5 stars

The story: On the way to meet his girlfriend, music producer Lee Hyung (Cha Tae Hyun) gets into a car accident. He wakes up to find himself in a different body and with no memory of his life.

South Korean actor Cha Tae Hyun's goofball shtick would be exasperating by now if he were not so likeable.

Unlike other actors such as Hollywood's Johnny Depp or Jim Carrey, whose silliness became increasingly grating to watch, Cha possesses a good-guy demeanour which allows him to continually get away with one-note, exaggerated facial expressions.

What he does not have here is the advantage of a script fresh enough to make up for his familiar tricks, which he has been pulling out from his sleeve ever since his breakout hit, My Sassy Girl (2001).

Here, he gets up to even more antics than usual in a body-switch comedy involving five identities: a high-school girl, a middle-aged detective in the midst of divorce, a forgetful grandmother, a lonely teacher and a music producer.

Most of the jokes are slapstick and derivative of every other body-switch movie out there (Cha yelps in horror when he first sees himself with boobs and a skirt when he wakes up in the body of the high-school girl).

Faring better is the sub-plot involving the teacher - there is a genuine sense of sadness about him being unwanted and forever alone.

The mystery over why Lee wakes up in these five particular bodies is given an unsatisfying explanation at the end.

Then again, the story that links all of his various adventures together was never the focus. It was merely a convenient excuse for writer Hwang Seung Jae (Oh! My God 2, 2009) to throw together what would otherwise be a bunch of completely random sketches.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 22, 2017, with the headline 'Even star's likeability cannot save film'. Print Edition | Subscribe