[Review] Dating Agency; Cyrano – 연애조작단; 시리노

MATCHMAKER, MATCHMAKER, MAKE ME A MATCH

Meet the Cyrano Agency.  The masterminds behind tailoring romantic scenarios for your needs.  Seo Byung Hoon (Lee Jong Hyuk) directs his team to help match mates in order to raise money to save the Cyrano Theater.  He crosses paths with a romanticist, Gong Min Young (Choi Soo Young), who just resist helping people fall in love.  Working at a restaurant across the way is Cha Seung Pyo (Lee Chun Hee) who keeps a close eye on the agency.

Ra.D – 어떤 설레임 (A Certain Heart Fluttering)

라디(Ra.D) – 어떤 설레임

When I originally saw the movie, I always thought that it would make a great drama because of the episodic feel for the stories.  As the agency continues to take on cases, you get a small dose of various kinds of romance stories.  Sadly, that format never worked well for American television and movies due to our sarcastic nature (See: Cupid (1998), Cupid (2009), Valentine, Hitch).  To top that off, I love that this drama was able to get such great cameos.  Cameos galore!  To name a few: Gong Yoo, Lee Kwang Soo, Lee Chung Ah, Ji Jin Hee, Lee Yoon Ji, Ye Ji Won, Jung Yu Mi and Shinee’s Lee Tae Min.

It’s hard to choose which cameo is my favorite but I’m quite partial to Jung Yu Mi and Gong Yoo’s story.  It feels like Gong Yoo reprised his role as Kim Jong Wook in Finding Kim Jong Wook.  Mind you, he’s not Gi Joon here.  Instead he gets built up as the perfect man because all we and the members of Cyrano Agency have to go by is her description of him.  However, when we meet him we see that he’s just a normal guy.

The drama is fun and fizzy perfect for a light, summer drama.  It moves at a pretty swift pace and yet provided some mystery involving Byung Hoon’s past as well as Seung Pyo’s motives.  I don’t think I ever recall Lee Chun Hee taking on such a dark role but I like it!  I’m so used to see him as being the bumbling 2nd lead that it’s refreshing to see him reserved that it’s kinda hot.

As for Lee Jong Hyuk and Choi Soo Young, it was very interesting to pair these two leads up.  I haven’t really seen Choi Soo Young in much of anything unless you consider her past cameo roles so to put her in a leading role was a big step.  However, she is cute and lively.  I could definitely identify with Gong Min Young because really don’t many of us fangirls have this same expression as we’re watching our romcoms?

Despite their age difference, Lee Jong Hyuk has this great ability to seem a lot younger than he really is so in some ways I think their chemistry was okay even if it wasn’t electric.  It was cute and frequently had that romcom bickering that we’re so used to.

Big Baby Driver – Take My Hands Tonight

빅 베이비 드라이버(Big Baby Driver) – Take My Hands Tonight

As for Hong Jong Hyun, who played the tech expert Moo Jin, I guess he can’t get away from that robotic casting stereotype.  Here he is no different but at least he was able to show a bit more of his sensitive even if Moo Jin is an unemotional character.

Jo Yoon Woo is cute and hardworking as Ah Rang and that’s no different from his character in Flower Boys Ramyun Shop.  However, I did love his speech in episode 4 where he gives up on the girl he’s begun to like for the sake of doing the right thing.

Jessica [Girl’s Generation] – 그대라는 한 사람 (That One Person, You)

제시카 [소녀시대] – 그대라는 한 사람

The pacing was nice for most of the drama and then Episode 15 and 16 had to happen.  The story really did need a twist because all the setups so far have been pretty successful.  Sure, there were some unexpected hiccups but nothing that they couldn’t overcome.  I did want the drama to address the fact that they were not only manipulating with people’s love lives but they were also making a profit.  It was nice to see Dok Go Mi Jin (Goo Eun Ae) and Min Se Kyung (Yoon Seo) come back to confront them but it didn’t really go far beyond that.

I was hoping to find the members find themselves in a situation where they accidentally set up a match in which the client abuses the agency’s services.  Like in Hitch when Jeffrey Donovan’s character wants to use Will Smith’s skill as a date doctor to sleep with a girl.  Or in the original movie when the client’s girlfriend finds out that after they get engage, he cheats on her.  It would have been a more interesting dilemma for the agency especially since one of its own members becomes a client.  How would Min Young feel about being set up after discovering that a client’s intention wasn’t so innocent?  Wouldn’t she second guess how she affected other people’s love lives?

However, they decided to accomplish that through the introduction of Jung Il Do aka The Creepy Hawaiian Shirt Guy who decides to kidnap Min Young.  It’s not even clear as to what his backstory is.  We suddenly have to deal with the light, effervescent tone of the drama making a sudden U-turn into crime thriller territory.  Say what?  Perhaps, the name Jung Il Do should have rung a bell in my head.  I kept thinking about how familiar that name was and then remembered that it was Lee Jong Hyuk’s character in Crime Squad.

As we continued to see Jung Il Do show up at Seung Pyo’s restaurant, we knew that something was coming but certainly I wasn’t expecting this.  I get Hye Ri’s motive but I just don’t get Hawaiian Shirt Guy.  And we never get his story really.   Perhaps Episode 15 was too late to get into his story.  After all the running around and panic, we bring this thriller to a close just as quickly.  Jung Il Do leaves parting warning words and we never see him again.  It’s like a bomb scare without the threat of a boom.

Don’t get me wrong.  It’s not like I even wanted his storyline to drag on anyways.  It’s just that this is the type of drama in which I want the nice, neat bow at the end.  It needs that.  But there were too many storylines that were left floating in the wind that the last episode felt very rushed to get back on the track it needed to be in order for our characters to return where they needed to be.  Jung Il Do was a very unnecessary distraction.

Peppertones – CHANCE!

페퍼톤스(Peppertones) – CHANCE!

Despite the awful distraction, I have been really enjoying the drama up until Episode 14.  Even loved the OST, as evidenced by how many tracks I’ve included above.  If I could rewrite the end, I would have had Moo Jin and Ah Rang kidnap Min Young as way of getting Byung Hoon to leap into action and prove that he loved her.  (Seung Pyo and his goons celebrating with balloons as an added bonus.  At least that’s how it works in my screencap sequence below.)  That would have kept things light and consistent in tone for me.  So even if I totally panned the last two episodes, I still love that this drama explored the various sides of the romantic comedy.

Rating

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