Edited by Yang Young Jun
Translated by Kim Hoyeun
“Premarital pregnancy,” “finding birth parent,” and “missing father-to-be,” etc. These topics are enough to fill one dynamic soap opera. But contrary to our expectations, More Than Family is a heartwarming film that makes us think again about what a true family is. Crazy topics and warm family drama, how did More Than Family successfully combine the two?
To Il, a 22-year-old college student, gets pregnant while tutoring her boyfriend, Ho Hoon (a senior in high school but is not a minor). Five months later, To Il confesses her pregnancy, which she has been hiding, to her mother and stepdad by presenting her ambitious plan to raise her child and study at the same time. But, let alone warm hospitality, they scold her saying, “Who did you take after?” Pondering on that question, To Il goes on a search for her birth father.
Carrying her heavy body, To Il sets off to Daegu with the sole clue that her father, who she has been separated from since childhood, is a technology and home economics teacher. After many twists and turns, she successfully finds her dad but returns home in disappointment after learning that he is nothing but an immature adult. On top of that, she finds out that Ho Hoon has gone missing after she arrived home. The fact that Ho Hoon, who only had his eyes on To Il, has disappeared comes as a big shock to To Il, and her confidence begins to falter. Her stepdad who disapproves of her pregnancy, her birth father who is just disappointing and her missing fiance: It is truly “daddy chaos (애비규환).”
The most impressive part of More Than Family is the way it `1q3 describes To Il’s family. To Il experienced her parents’ divorce as a child and is still awkward with her stepdad despite the fact that they lived together for 15 years. And now, To Il is pregnant in her early 20s. One might click his tongue, saying that it’s one “broken” family.
However, director Choi Ha Na never describes To Il’s dynamic family history as a “failure.” Instead, she views the divorce, remarriage and premarital pregnancy as “mistakes” that can happen while forming a family and something that can be overcome. This warm gaze comforts those who have undergone a similar environment and also serves as a guide to correct someone’s prejudice.
The comedy elements in More Than Family is also quite attractive. Rather than using slapstick or childish bickering, humor resulting from a series of unexpected situations offers a small, comfortable laugh. The movie also presents satire on some older generations who refuse to go along with the changes by adding in a grandfather character who continually says, “What did you do in your jesa (ancestral rite) to have your family end up like this?” Even though it deals with topics that can be rather serious and heavy, More Than Family doesn’t lose its cheerfulness from the start to the end.
We cannot leave out actors’ performances. Krystal, who made her big-screen debut with More Than Family, realistically portrayed an ordinary youth by flawlessly playing a college girl who makes bold choices but still has worries and is afraid about the path she never walked before. Jang Hye Jin, Choi Deok Moon, Shin Hae Hwi, Lee Hae Young, Kang Mal Geum and Nam Moon Chul also breathe life into characters with strong personalities. The delicious chemistry between veteran actors and rookie actors particularly stands out.
More Than Family says that there is no such thing as a perfect family. Instead, it defines family as those who share difficulties and happiness together despite the lacking. What better message is there these days than “you don’t have to be perfect”?
Verdict: Family drama filled with warm and pleasant gaze (8/10)
Editor Yang Young Jun: There is at least one good part in every movie or TV series. A media geek who isn’t picky with genres.