As odd as it may be, I had no idea of who the Wonder Girls were until their venture out into the U.S. market in 2009. Wanting to be a loyal K-pop fan I dug into their endeavors and hoped to support them. After all, if one comes many will follow. However, the U.S. proved to be one tough nut to crack and worldwide success was miles away. My patience ran thin as I heard “Nobody”, with all of its variations, played to death; and “2 Different Tears” was far from a hit. I put them to the side and moved on with my life. Then came 2011, and with a bang and a boom the girls came back to South Korea, dominating the charts with an instant hit, “Be My Baby”. Back on the wagon, I proudly put their music on my playlist. Unfortunately, JYP had yet to cease his plans for the American market and the movie “The Wonder Girls” was announced. Knowing that it would premiere on TeenNick, my expectations weren’t high, and I am still in awe over how the producers managed to slide right under them. It was bad — I mean it, BAD.
Since the movie only lasted about 45 minutes, it is hard to explore its faults too much without giving things away. As advertised, the story revolves around the girls coming to America with high hopes. During their stay they perform at the Apollo, becoming instant rivals with the “School Gyrls”; they are determined to prove themselves a worthy opponent.
I don’t know if it was the English barrier or the movie’s overall “half-assed” vibe, but the girls’ performances were wooden. After all of my hype with Sohee and her stint in “Hellcats”, I was hoping that she would have some headway with her experience; it didn’t happen. Instead Yenny was given the lead role with plenty of screen time, to the point in which I contemplated the movie being renamed to “Yenny and the Wonder Girls”.
Imagine every cliché related to the underdog story. Now take that, compress it into 45 minutes, and you, my friend, might as well have seen the movie. Again, I wasn’t expecting much, but at the very least I hoped for a semi-coherent plot and decent portrayal of the girls. The first was blown to pieces and the second barely passed. The girls were made 2-D and formed into a cheesy team that gives out “Wonder Hugs”, wanting nothing more than to have fun. Though this was done to raise the antics, I can’t help but imagine what things would have been like had the girls been portrayed as fierce, hardworking, and professional; who they are in real life.
Near the halfway point, no, the first ten minutes, I wanted to stop watching, but as a fan I persevered. After all, I had already gone through the yearlong wave of “Nobody” and had nothing better to do. What amazes me is how they managed to stereotype Americans despite it being made in America. Shouldn’t they know better?! “Soul food” doesn’t instantly put people to sleep, and kisses aren’t equivalent to a promise. Since things were so wonky plot wise, I was left with nothing in the end. No distant memories, just a blank spot on my life.
I think that the producers came into this movie with the following mindset; ‘we got the fans so why try too hard?’, and as a result this movie bombed (in terms of execution). I am also guessing that they didn’t think that it would take much to please the younger audience (the demographic it was intended for). It must have slipped their mind that the millions of supporters out there would have standards. The opportunity that was missed bugged me the most. Since the movie focuses on the girls musically, I assumed that plenty of dance numbers and sing offs would be included, but the few that did occur lasted little over a minute; leaving the viewers that never heard of the group with little incentive to look into their work any further. This basically undermined the purpose of the movie, to draw in more American fans.
With the movie being as much of a disappointment as it was, it interests me to know whether or not this was a significant step in their American career. On one hand they are given some much needed attention, but on the other they were pretty much made out to be a joke. In some ways it feels as though Girls’ Generation has gained the same amount of spotlight with nothing other than their performances on “The Late Show with David Letterman” and “Live! with Kelly”
What do you think? Was this movie necessary?