200 Pounds Beauty – Movie – Review

200 Pounds Beauty - Poster

I bet you can’t recognize me!

‘200 Pounds Beauty’ – Synopsis

Hanna is a lip sync vocalist for Ami, the famous Korean pop singer. Even though she is always ignored because of her appearance, she has been a bright and lighthearted girl until Amy humiliates her in front of Sang Jun, her secret love. At last, she makes a decision of a lifetime to have plastic surgery all over her body.

Year: 2006
Native and/or alternative titles: 미녀는 괴로워; Minyeoneun Goerowo
Countries: South Korea
Languages: Korean
Genre: Comedy, Music, Romance
Director: Kim Yong Hwa
Cast: Joo Jin Mo, Kim Ah Joong, Im Hyun Shik, Lee Han Wi, Ji Seo Yoon, Kim Hyun Sook, Sun Dong Il, Lee Won Jong, Lee Young Chul

200 Pounds Beauty – Review

When the ‘ugly’ girl Hanna, Kim Ah Joong, is not only overweight but obese and the topic of ridicule of her co-workers. Moreover, she cannot grab the attention of her crush because despite her heavenly voice she is only but a lip-sync vocalist for an “apparent” singer who perfectly fits the standards of beauty which are being only skin and bones who only eats just enough to survive. Hanna feels like she is a failure in life and that she could never attract any man with her body and attempts suicide. Yet, even all her suicide attempts fail. So, one day she gets the idea to gets plastic surgery but not just a couple of nips and tucks – an entire make-over of her complete body. Despite it being dangerous she is desperate to change her life. After a year of relentless surgeries, Hanna is reborn as Jenny.

Jenny is the perfect beauty with the perfect hair, eyes, nose, lips and body. Jenny can make anyone stop in their place – both men and women. At first, Jenny feels quite awkward with all the attention but soon learns to enjoy it, after all this is why she left everything from her previous life behind and struggled for a year for. One day, Jenny decides to audition as a playback artist and ends up seeing her crush, Sang Jun (played by Joo Jin Mo), again. She gets extremely nervous, afraid that he might recognize her, but then realizes that she has completely changed and he doesn’t give her a passing glance until she starts singing. He immediately recalls Hanna but comes to the conclusion that Jenny couldn’t possibly be Hanna. He immediately hires Jenny as the main artist and starts training her for her debut. Her concept would be – a natural beauty! Jenny in a rush said that she had never once had plastic surgery. And so the story begins.

Kim Ah Joong - Ji Seo Yoon - Joo Jin Mo - 200 Pounds Beauty - Dinner
Hanna humiliated in front of Sang Jun because of her weight
Likes

The journey from Hanna to Jenny is hilarious and a delight to watch. The movie shows wonderfully how Hanna adjusts to her new slimmer and prettier body and how she reacts to people paying attention to her instead of sidelining her. The great thing is that her personality remains that of Hanna – kind and considerate with no a whit of vanity. She enjoys her new life, even more, when Sang Jun starts giving her more attention but ironically, in one encounter Jenny finds out that Sang Jun had a soft spot for Hanna and actually misses her a lot. He even confesses that he felt bad for not giving her enough attention and support. She makes Jenny start regretting getting the plastic surgery a little.

But, none-the-less this is a movie about how despite having enormous talent one needs to adhere to the standards of beauty in order to succeed in your career or even get the guy you have a crush on. In fact, being pretty can get you through even if you don’t have talent. Unfortunately, in the movie, I didn’t find a single instance where this reality was challenged or even tried to be proven wrong. I firmly believe that talent overcomes everything else. Agreed, the entertainment industry is looks-centred but a singer should be appraised and loved based on her/his ability to sing rather than looks. I remember in one of Lady Gaga’s interview in Ellen, Gaga said that she was surprised when people congratulated her for sing live in her concerts because she considered that to be an obvious fact “It’s part of the gig, isn’t it? That we have to sing live?” to which Ellen replied “Right! When your title is a singer, you should sing.”

Kim Ah Joong - Hana - Plastic Surgery - 200 Pounds Beauty
Hanna going in for her surgery
Dislikes

Even though the movie is lovely and hilarious to watch, I feel it has a really unfit message. It is true that Hanna/Jenny was shown to be remorseful about getting plastic surgery but there was not a blatant message saying that one should not change themselves to fit the society’s standards. In the movie, Hanna eventually did get to be a popular singer, get the man of her dreams and become a strong and confident woman but all as Jenny, not as Hanna. Any type of surgery has risks, especially one involving your entire body, that too multiple surgeries. Yet, there was no point where such extreme measures were condemned. Even at the end, Jenny’s plastic surgery transformation was brushed aside and she became popular simply because she was pretty. It felt as if being pretty is everything. This mentality is not surprising considering the rate at which young girls get plastic surgery in South Korea. South Korea is being termed as the Plastic Surgery Capital these days. I am not entirely against plastic surgery but I believe that rather than trying to fit into the society’s norms, young kids, both boys and girls, should be encouraged to be comfortable in their own skin and be confident for who they are.

Plastic surgery should be considered a bit like make-up, it is fine to use it to boost your self-image a little and look pretty but only when you are confident that even without make-up you can be the same confident person you are. Make-up, clothes, accessories and other such things are items which can help in bringing out the best in a person, but it cannot make the person.

Kim Ah Joong - Hana - Singer - 200 Pounds Beauty - Live
Hanna getting attention on stage after easily fitting into a petite dress after her surgery

I think if Hanna would have simply lost her weight through rigorous exercise and a healthy diet then it would be a far better message for society. Dieting in a healthy manner is good for the body but not starving it. Being healthy and slim is a good goal but not being skin and bones. Doing so will definitely result in grave health problems later in life. The media today influences the young minds into believing that extreme diet fads followed by their favourite celebrities is the ideal method. But what we don’t realize is that these celebrities have an entire team of dieticians, nutritionists, trainers, managers and more to look after them and ensure their routine is effective. A primary part of their job is to maintain their body and they spend hours in a day in doing so. Therefore, we normal people cannot do so by simply picking up on unhealthy and potentially life-threatening diet-fads.

Verdict

Anyways, got severely sidetracked there, back to the film now. The movie, despite its flaws, is very entertaining and quite hilarious. The plot is quite well done and with not too many plot holes either. The cinematography is quite good for it being almost a decade old film and the actors are really good as well. Overall, this movie is really good for simple entertainment and a one-time watch. Though now there are a lot of dramas and movies with similar plots, this movie stands out in them in terms of entertainment factor.

The music here is quite beautiful. I loved it. I still listen to a couple of the soundtracks even after so many years. One of the songs, Maria by Kim Ah Joong, is amazing! Do check it out if you can~ And yes she is the same Kim Ah Joong who is the lead actor here.

Have you seen ‘200 Pounds Beauty’? What are your thoughts on it? Do you plan to watch it after reading this review?

About Poornima

A Korea-phile by nature~ Love everything Asian and originally from India. Fluent in Korean language and knows Chinese language as well. Has Masters in East Asian Studies (with special interest in Korean culture and politics)

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