The Wonder Girls Movie: Wait, that was a movie?


When I first heard that there was going to be a Wonder Girls movie, I was excited because I thought it would be something like the Spice Girls movie, or the S Club (7) TV show. And to a certain extent it was, what with the main storyline being the Wonder Girls trying to succeed in the US. It's unrealistic, yes, seeing as one, it's extremely hard to succeed in one try, and two, the Wonder Girls have been in the US for YEARS, but to a certain extent, that kind of mindless plot appeals to people like me. Lit majors who argue over the difference between an era and a period, and who generally think too much about "simple" things, because movies like this are mindless fun, eye-candy, and maybe have the occasional pretty song in between.


From the trailer, it seemed just that. Friendship, fun, girl groups facing off, lots of singing, dancing, and general "merrymaking". But trust me, don't judge the movie by the trailer, because the trailer's actually a lot better than the movie itself. (sorry, still hung over from medieval lit)

Their English is nothing to brag about, and from the very beginning I was prepared for the awkward pronunciation and the strange emotions, all while being contrasted to the rest of the cast, because they're not native English speakers. That's perfectly fine -- they have to start somewhere, and this is definitely a lot farther than where they were a few years ago. That's not the problem.

The problem is that the plot is completely non-existent. From a literary point of view, basically what the movie does is it raises a lot of points, the Wonder Girls' "feud"/rivalry with the School Gyrls, Ye Eun's love interest with the DJ, hence "The DJ Is Mine", and them trying to adjust to America. But by the end of the movie, it's like all of the points were haphazardly tied back together. They were all kind of resolved by the end, with WG going on tour with the School Gyrls AND the DJ, but the events leading up to that were so half-hearted and sloppily done. And again, it's not because of the English.

First, their rivalry with the School Gyrls. It was okay at the beginning, and the premise was pretty solid -- the School Gyrls saw WG as a threat, okay, cool, that happens all the time. As the movie progressed though, it's as if the feud just slipped away, with no emphasis on anything. The School Gyrls challenged the Wonder Girls to some kind of showdown at "the spot", fine fantastic, but WG didn't do any dancing. And basically all the two groups did was stare at each other, as if waiting for the DJ to come and drag WG out of the club. The final blow through was the end. I get that the Asian girl in the School Gyrls (I heard she's Filipina? Yeah.) was starting to be nice to them, but then suddenly, after the Wonder Girls sing, Yenny (was it Yenny?) forgives them for "what they've done"? I get her point, that they're already established and they're taking someone's dream away, but this is all happening too fast. Ideally, what should've happened was that the School Gyrls should've accepted the prize, but kinda hesitating, then once that's all done, apologize to the Wonder Girls. I mean it's cliche, but at least it's accurate and everything's clear.

You know the movie's bad when the best part of it is the random guy they threw in for comic relief - Mitchie! Honestly, he was the only reason why I watched the movie 'till the end, and his "comedic" antics probably contributed more to the plot than the WG feud. I mean look, be brought WG to the Apollo, he brought them to the club (it was Yoobin who got them in, but still), he drugged the guards with food, and he was the one who realized that the limo they were riding was going the wrong way.

Second, the DJ. Honestly, when I watched the movie, my first reaction to the DJ storyline was that it seemed like it was an afterthought. Like, so they got the song, "The DJ Is Mine", then someone thought it was a good idea to just slap it on the soundtrack, and make it somewhat a lead single, on the premise that the lyrics applied to the plot. Stupid decision, JYP, stupid decision. I actually liked the idea of Ye Eun/Yenny having a love interest, it adds a sense of rebellion I guess, what with the girls supposedly "concentrating" on their music. If they had developed this angle of the story more, honestly it would've been okay.

And lastly, the girls trying to adjust to America. Wait, what? This is standard in all the "foreign pop stars trying to make it" movies, but apart from Sohee always asking about shopping (...), and their cute misinterpretations of expressions, there really wasn't anything to it. Angie Stone was a nice addition, and her "fairy godmother" character was spot-on, plus the fact that she boosted the girls' morale and she was the one Yenny ran to when "things got tough". But the rest of the plot was too much of a disaster that even she couldn't salvage it.

I think the main problem is that they were trying to do so many things at the same time, but were only given a limited amount of time, and yet they still tried to cram everything in. It's okay to be ambitious, and majority of the time it actually fosters creativity, but it's also important to work within your means. I know JYP wants a lot from WG, and they want to do everything too, but it's better to show a well-done, solid, but short movie, as opposed to a messy mumbo jumbo of a gazillion different things.

But what bothers me even more is the lack of music in the movie. I expected this to be at least half of a High School Musical, but what, we get two (three if you count "The DJ Is Mine" at the end) songs? One of which we've heard before? I mean that new song is gorgeous and I'm one of the many people dying to hear it in full, but for a movie about pop stars there isn't that much singing, or even dancing/production numbers. I was expecting a Yenny heartbreak song, and even just Yenny and Sunye belting out something with Angie Stone/Betty, even just a chorus or something. You'd think they'd capitalize on the fact that they actually got a hold of Angie Stone by making her sing.

And that confuses me as to what JYP wants the Wonder Girls to be in the US. The industry is different from Korea. It's not "better", it's different. So when you approach the US industry, one, you have to be sure of what you are, and two, you have to stick to it.

So, JYP, what is it, music or movies? You have to decide, people don't like waiting.

3 comments:

  1. Wow, you said exactly what I've been thinking. I watched the movie recently myself and was extremely disappointed at how it failed to deliver on all fronts. It does happen to be a pity that they had less than 45 minutes to develop and resolve a plotline. But with all this talk about the dichotomy between Korean and American culture, why not make their rival a soloist (to emphasize America's obsession with the loner)? Even that simple storyline--teamwork winning out over individuality--would be more compelling than the real movie's nonexistent plot. And speaking of teamwork, how about developing the relationships among the girls themselves? It felt like nothing important when the group had that five-minute "fallout." If I didn't know anything about the Wonder Girls prior to watching the movie, I'd be wondering why Yenny was crying.
    Oh well. There were just a lot of things this movie could have done better. There were also a lot of things that bugged me, like WG being so worried about the School Gyrls' dancing skills, when you can actually see from what little dancing we saw that they're on the same level or better than them. Or the fact that cheers from the audience decides who gets ten thousand dollars and who doesn't. Lol, but thanks so much for writing this post. Everything you said really needed to be said :)

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  2. i liked that movie. it was a bit weird and...simple-minded, but it wasn't bad. please excuse my english if i did anything wrong grammar wise.

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  3. I live in America and I'm a HUGE wonder girls fan and I have to admit it was a bit cheesy because the movie seems a little awkward but honestly I think making a movie and releasing "the dj is mine" was overall good. I think maybe if they make another movie they should focus on the plot more and think about what their audience might want to see or hear. So overall I thought they did great but I heard only 70 million people watched it like on Teen Nick so that's not really a lot cause how many people really have Teen Nick on their usual channels. So anyways I love them and all but the movie was a bit cheesy.

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