No other feeling matches that warm hug of familiarity. When a film can come along and provide that simple pleasure of escapism and wish fulfilment, it can feel at times like visiting an old friend. Dancing Queen is one of the latest in a assembly line of feel good Korean comedies that manages to deliver on this promise in spades. Whilst the combination of inner city politics and dancing girls may leave some reader’s eyes rolling, Dancing Queen manages to prove that by simply having a big enough heart and some well timed humour, criticisms such as this will soon be forgotten
Telling the tale of a down on his luck public attorney (played earnestly by Hwang Jeong-min) and his estranged Dance Teacher wife (Uhm Jung-Hwa), Dancing Queen is a title that relishes in it’s use of well worn romantic comedy tropes as the aforementioned couple are thrust into the limelight after an unassuming act of heroism on the husband’s part. Suddenly it seems all eyes are on this poor lawyer and before he knows it he has become the number one candidate for Mayor of Seoul in the upcoming elections. Meanwhile Uhm Jung-hwa’s turn as scorned wife secretly has plans of her own and decides to finally pursue her life long dream of becoming a pop idol.
Shot in an airbrushed Seoul and utilising a soundtrack to rival big name Hollywood contemporaries, Dancing Queen definitely brings a sense of glitz and glamour rarely seen by viewers unaccustomed with Korean Dramas. The film certainly has it’s share of laughs and thanks to a great flashback sequence in the title’s opening, provides a suitable platform for the story to pick up steam. Some viewers may find the use of broad slapstick humour and risqué happen-stance a little stale, though those familiar with much of modern Asian cinema need not be concerned. Performances all around are suitably animated with a great turn from the child actors as well as some of the minor supporting roles. Dancing Queen certainly doesn’t outstay it’s welcome and has a snappy pace that will leave few viewers bored. From an artistic standpoint much of the film is pedestrian in its execution save for some stand out costumes and set design. This is a film that will likely make some viewers consider adding Seoul to the list of places to visit.
Dancing Queen does not represent the cutting edge of Asian cinema nor does it have any aspirations to gain the approval of chin stroking art house critiques. Instead Dancing Queen is perfectly content in offering a distillation of mainstream Korean cinema and by doing so, knocks it out of the park. To be blunt the film has it’s share of problems and will most definitely have a large number of detractors. The overly saccharine conclusion, broad comedy and clunky second act will definitely leave some viewers in the cold. For connoisseurs of Korean drama and newcomers looking for a title that brings humour and warmth though, Dancing Queen delivers without question by presenting a story that manages to create a sense of pure unadulterated joy across it’s ninety or so minutes.