Sometimes, the best thing to de-stress is a cheery rom-com and Like for Likes (좋아해줘) fits that bill. It’s a fun rom-com, one that will leave you happy, despite possibly shedding a couple of tears along the way. And it opens today in 17 major locations across North America including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas, and of course, Toronto.
The film follows six people whose lives are connected, at one level or another. There is Jin-Woo, an actor who just finished his military service; Gyung-Ah, a popular TV drama screenwriter; Sung-Chan, a restaurateur; Joo-Ran, a flight attendant; Soo-Ha, a deaf songwriter; and Na-Yeon, a TV producer. What will happen as they meet, connect and perhaps fall in love with a little help from social media?
Interestingly, despite the advertising about social media being a part of the storyline (or perhaps that was just my take on it) and the English title, Like for Likes, there’s really no more social media in the film than one would expect to see in a modern rom-com. Okay, there is the one scene where Sung-Chan, played by Kim Ju Hyeok (김주혁) helps Joo-Ran, played by Choi Ji Woo (최지우) “enhance” her Facebook page with some scripted photos (does this happen in real life?) to attract a doctor for a boyfriend, but otherwise, the amount and use of social media in the film was fairly normal to modern society. In fact, I suspect most of you reading this review have done something similar to Jin-Woo’s, played by Yoo Ah In (유아인) who played the villain so well in Veteran (베테랑), mild Facebook stalking. And for me, that was one of the reasons I enjoyed the film, despite it being predictable at times… but then, so are most rom-coms. The characters, and their actions, were realistic, believable and very easy to connect with.
However, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s talk a little more about the three couples.
Jin-Woo is looking for a new project after his military service but he turns down Gyung-Ah’s, played by Lee Mi Yeon (이미연), new drama because they have history. It turns out that she doesn’t want him in it either for a similar reason. But circumstances – as well as his manager and her producer – keep trying to get them together. And then Jin-Woo meets her son and thinks back to the night before he went into the military.
It’s not long before we see beneath his spoiled, seemingly carefree personality to the dude that doesn’t want to still like her. And beyond her prickly exterior lies a woman who is equal parts afraid and protective. Plus it’s always fun to see an older woman – younger man couple.
Next up is restaurateur Sung-Chan, who leases an apartment from flight attendant Joo-Ran, to get ready for his upcoming wedding, only to be dumped by his fiancé. To make matters worse, Joo-Ran loses her unwise investment and dreams of her own shop. Even though they didn’t rub well at the beginning – he called her an old maid – Sung-Chan is one of the nice guys and offers to allow her to move in to the second bedroom as roommates.
Interestingly, Sung-Chan is the connector for most of the characters as he’s super friendly, and loves butting in, er… helping others. Joo-Ran was the weakest character for me. Oh, she starts out strong – I liked her at the beginning – but she goes from being independent to chasing after a doctor for a boyfriend, pretty much just because he was a doctor. However, I did like how she interacted with Sung-Chan, who despite his propensity for meddling, was an engaging character.
The final couple is the sweet Soo-Ho, played by Kang Ha Neul (강하늘) whom I liked in Twenty (스물), who is an innocent-in-love, deaf songwriter who you just want to hug. Or is that just me? Anyways, while hanging out at Sung-Chan’s restaurant (with whom he’s friends – see, one of the connections) he meets Na-Yeon, played by Esom (이솜) who, incidentally, was quite good in Scarlet Innocence (마담 뺑덕), and they hit it off. Beyond Soo-Ho’s inexperience in relationships (which was obvious, adorable and good for both laughs and tears), he’s afraid of how she’ll react to his deafness so he hides it until he’s outed (more tears).
Kang Ha Neul did such a great job at portraying Soo-Ho that halfway through his and Na-Yeon’s first messaging conversation, you’ll start rooting for him. He’s just that sweet. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Kang Ha Neul is gorgeous but it’s really the earnestness of his character that will grab you.
When I started writing this, my first question was “which couple did I like most?” and the answer to that was different from what I was expecting. Being as Soo-Ho made me cry and I wanted to hug the character pretty much from the start, you’d think I would like him and Na-Yeon the most. But despite the fact that I was really rooting for them, it was Jin-Woo and Gyung-Ah. I know, it surprised me too. Regardless, it was a fun film that left me smiling… and wiping away some tears.
Like for Likes would have made a fabulous Valentine’s Day film but it will also be good for chasing away the winter blahs. If you need a (mostly) lighthearted, fun rom-com, go see Like for Likes.
It’s opens today so go see it. And don’t forget to let me know in the comments which character and couple you liked best!