Song Joong-ki in "Penny Pinchers"
A college graduate named Chun Ji-woong (Song Joong-ki) finds himself hopeless for being jobless, still dependent on his mom and playing easy-go-lucky by drinking with his friends and trying to impress girls despite his ridiculously unwell status where he is 5 months behind his rent. Meanwhile, an extremely frugal girl named Gu Hong-sil who makes money out of anything and everything possible (Han Ye-seul) lives adjacent to his apartment and overhears the landlady pestering him to pay for his long overdue rent. Hong-sil gets news of a plan that the neighborhood is bound for redevelopment and the current residents are being ousted though the developer will be giving out a compensation fee. She talks to the landlady and pays Ji-woong's overdue rent then tells her to make her dad the new tenant. That way, she will receive double of that compensation fee since her dad whose life is spent on gambling, is rarely around. She pities Ji-woong who gets evicted and becomes homeless so she gives him a tent to live in at the rooftop and makes him his partner in making money. While Hong-sil's act is out of pity, she also has a scheme of her own. She lives cheap and is very stingy because she has a goal of saving $200,000 and gave herself a strict deadline. Hong-sil isn't actually poor, she's just obsessed with saving up money and is always smart about not spending much. She earns a lot until her fund manager suggests for her to earn extra money by creating another account with a borrowed name. She uses Ji-woong's name though she intends to give him a $1000 reward. Ji-woong learns a lot on how Hong-sil earns money though her ways aren't legitimate. She collects bottles to sell them and goes through abandoned houses to keep things that can be sold or that she can use herself. She also gets a lot of extra sugar from cafe's and has other money scheming tactics that allows her to earn a hefty amount so that she could keep on depositing them to her bank account. She teaches Ji-woong to do the same though his playboy personality gets lured by a girl whom he wants to sleep with but keeps on making him spend his money for her. Ji-woong sees how Hong-sil values money and suddenly feels a deep concern over her when she oversleeps under a tree and explains to him that she sprinkled her mother's ashes there because she was short of $50 to give her a decent burial place, and that she could only afford to cremate her. Ji-woong eventually realizes that he's starting to admire her for her own different ways, her struggles and her own perception. As things between the two start to blossom, Ji-woong learns about her scheme but before he could get more aggravated, they both learn that the fund manager was a scam. Only 1 account gets saved but Hong-sil chooses to give the money to Ji-woong who uses it by buying that significant tree, and planting it alongside her apartment so she could see it everyday with her mom's memories in it. They finally profest their concern and care for each other and decides to team up to save the money they have lost because of a scam.
What makes it interesting?
If earning money is a huge struggle for you, then this is the best movie to watch. Penny Pinchers teaches the value of money and how far you can go with every cent from recycling, reselling and other strange tactics that could save money. For a romantic comedy film, Song Joong-ki's character as the careless and helpless playboy who watches his porn collection and uses projector for his own own comfort of watching it on a bigger screen, meshes well with a frugal girl who's motto in life is to stay away from religion, illness, and relationship because they all cost money. If you look at it on a serious note, the story is very dramatic and pitiful but Ji-woong's careless attitude of being jobless and homeless gives humor that it makes his life more bearable to watch. One of the funniest scenes that cracked me up was his determination to sleep with a girl whom he met at a motor club. He rides a motorcycle which he treats likes his own brother and lied to a girl to impress her, leading them into a near-copulation experience only to find out that he needs to buy condoms. Their romantic act gets delayed as he rushes to a convenience store but unfortunately finds himself short of cash. He ended up distracting the store keeper and immediately runs with what he thought was condoms, only to find out as he was panting, that it was actually a pack of mint. Another scene which turned out to be the funniest was a clip of him where the frugal girl named Hong-sil is teary-eyed while her company Ji-woong cries like a baby upon watching a dramatic movie. There are countless of humorous scenes in the movie that it makes it worth watching but the turning point that makes the movie more meaningful is how Ji-woong's careless attitude has changed him into a selfless and more matured man. He finally sees the value of money and realizes that Hong-sil is important to him.
The movie doesn't revolve around a romantic atmosphere. Instead, it showcases the importance of money and to whom it is most valuable to. I enjoyed a lot in seeing Song Joong-ki's loser character and his transition. This is the first time that I have really seen him as a comedian and he pulled that off without much effort. Han Ye-seul also left a good impact in playing a frugal girl. This is the kind of movie that anyone in deep financial crisis could relate to as it gives hope and lessons to learn about money and coping with life's struggles.