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Disney’s new family drama adds nothing new to genre

Feb 17,2017
“My Little Brother” is a family drama that Disney chose as its first Korean film to distribute. Though the movie invokes the genre’s usual ploy to make audience cry, its story is comparatively tame and not overly dramatic.

Starring Lee Yo-won, Jeong Man-sik and Esom as siblings, the story begins with their three characters, who have severed contact with each other, gathering upon the death of their father. Instead of the usual crying and sorrow, awkwardness and hatred fills the funeral parlor, where the three meet an 11-year-old boy named O-nak who claims to be their youngest brother.

The three initially refuse to take in the boy and instead attempt to use him as a means to win what they want. The oldest brother Seong-ho (Jeong), who had money stolen from him by a friend and now drives a private bus for kindergarteners, tries to raise O-nak hoping to receive insurance money, while the cold-hearted second child Su-gyeong (Lee), who had long been financially supporting her parents and paying off their debt through her income as a reporter, uses him as a tool to benefit her at work. Though the third child Ju-mi (Esom) is the most warm-hearted sibling of them all, she also refuses to raise O-nak and tosses the responsibility on to her older brother and sister, pointing out her financial incompetence.

As its director Ma Dae-yun (who wrote last year’s “The Last Princess”) said during the press preview last week, “My Little Brother” follows the pattern of a routine family drama: family members that have long turned their backs on each other reconciling through the introduction of a new child. Similar plots were seen in previous hits like “Speed Scandal” (2008), which revolved around a man who one day is faced with a girl that has a little son of her own claiming to be his daughter, and “Miracle in Cell No.7” (2013), which depicts the friendship of prisoners through the introduction of a young girl. “My Little Brother,” is far from refreshing and misses out on adding any humor, which is a crucial factor found in similar films. In short, the movie is too preoccupied with trying to stress the importance of family, and comes off as unconvincing.

“My Little Brother” is a 106-minute family movie that hit theaters nationwide on Wednesday. It is rated 12 and above.

BY JIN MIN-JI [jin.minji@joongang.co.kr]