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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Don't commit to a bad or toxic relationship.
Positive Role Models
Da-Eun is a hardworking, caring, and nice young woman. She stays in a dying relationship for as long as she can.
The film is entirely Korean. Some representations of work culture and social norms might confuse non-Korean viewers. Definitely assumes a male-centered perspective and worries about Jang-Hyeok's well-being more than Da-Eun's. Bo-Yeong and Da-Eun feature, but their characters are generally thin (the "other woman" and the "waiting woman at home" respectively), while Jang-Hyeok is clearly the main character. Fat-shaming.
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Violence & Scariness
A news story on the radio mentions a woman brutally stabbing her husband after finding out he cheated on her. A security guard encourages another man to "take advantage of an opportunity," implying that he should try to have sex with a woman colleague. Some fat-shaming jokes "motivate" a fat young man to lose weight.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some romantic kissing. No nudity or sex scenes, but implied sex, as characters wake up the next morning in bed. A young woman announces that her period is late. Young adults flirt, cuddle, spoon. A young man briefly touches, over the clothes, a young woman's breast.
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Strong language includes "f--k," "f--king," "s--t," "bitch," "a--hole," "ass," "d--kwad," "damn," "pissed," and "butt," plus "God!" and "Jesus Christ!" as exclamations.
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Products & Purchases
Clear product placement of McDonald's meals and Kia automobiles.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults smoke cigarettes but are chastised for it, told that it isn't healthy. Adults drink alcohol at work events, at dinners, at home. Some get drunk and show drunken behavior. One woman doesn't remember what she did or said the following morning. Peer pressure: A young woman pressures a colleague to drink.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Sweet & Sour is a Korean romance. Clearly critical of modern Korean work life and the demands of impressing superiors and putting in long hours, it portrays the world in which Da-Eun and Jang-Hyeok try to cultivate a loving relationship as a difficult one. They have hardly a moment to spare for quality time, and if they're home at the same time, they're likely asleep. Meanwhile, every day at work, Hyeok continues to get closer with Bo-Yeong. Expect a pregnancy scare, some romantic kissing and cuddling, and the implication of sex. Adults often drink alcohol -- at dinner, at home, and at work events. Some adults get drunk and behave accordingly. Adults also smoke cigarettes. There's also a decent amount of strong language, including "f--k," "f--king," "s--t," "bitch," "ass," "a--hole," "d--kwad," and "damn." Some fat-shaming jokes "motivate" a fat young man to lose weight. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This romance has its moments, but it ultimately doesn't succeed. There's a lot to like about it, like how it depicts the stifling modern Korean work life and culture. The performances in Sweet & Sour are great, too, as are the slick production and the effectively written script. The problems, however, start to drag the film down as its conceits begin to become clear. For instance, while the very important late twist and/or fake-out is cool, using a character's body size to ensure the fake-out isn't. This romance also doesn't do enough to convince us of the love or connection between the two main characters. By the time significant decisions have to be made, the later-version Hyeok simply hasn't done anything to deserve any empathy.
Further, the film assumes a male perspective, so the audience is supposed to feel the pain of Hyeok's mistake or confusion, when in reality, not much at all about later him is remotely attractive or desirable. In a similar vein, the two female main characters are stereotypical in their roles (one is the "always at home, waiting woman" and the other is the "other woman" at work), the ending makes it seem like the audience should care about what happens to the later Hyeok (which feels weird), and the ending rewards a man who earlier displayed stalker-like behavior.
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.