HIFF Spring Showcase: ‘Love On-Air’

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Actresses have it tough when it comes to romantic comedies. Most of the success of a romantic comedy depends on female stars being able to carry films with their looks, charm and quirkiness. It’s very rare when male stars are even remembered, since they usually plays stiff, straight love interests. But the rewards are worth the risks as many actresses have launched their careers with this genre, including A-listers such as Julia Roberts, Sandra Bullock and Kate Hudson. The romantic comedy is just as popular in South Korea, shaping careers for stars such as Jeon Ji Hyun and Kim Ha Neul.

Lee Min Jung is the latest trending actress in Korea, and she takes a stab at the genre with “Love On-Air,” playing Gina, a former girl-group singing star who now hosts a radio show. After her ratings start to decline, a new producer, Jae Hyuk (Lee Jung Jin), is brought in to shake things up. Gina introduces a new segment to her show, where real people share their stories and sing a song to a loved one. The segment’s popularity takes off, but her troubles are not over as an entertainment CEO and Gina’s former band mate conspire to get her off the air.

“Love On-Air” plays it pretty safe, not venturing into any new territory within the romantic comedy screenplay checklist. The embarrassing introduction, the initial hate between the two leads, the big fight — they’re all here. But romantic comedies are all about chemistry and believability of the leads, and that’s where “Love On-Air” falls short.

Lee Min Jung does her best to act cute and charming, and she does an acceptable job, but it’s Lee Jung Jin — an actor not known as a comedian — who’s miscast. His character is basically unlikable, thus making it hard to believe Gina would ever fall for him. Along with their lack of chemistry, I didn’t get the CEO’s motivation for wanting Gina out. It’s mentioned in passing, but I never really bought it.

Overall, “Love On-Air” is quite generic and bland, but I did enjoy hearing the personal stories of the people invited to share their lives on the radio. Listening to them pour their emotions out and sing from the heart to their loved ones was the best part of the film.

The Hawaii International Film Festival Spring Showcase runs from Friday, April 13 through Thursday, April 19.

“Love On-Air” screens at Dole Cannery Theatres on Monday, April 16 at 8:45 p.m. and Wednesday, April 18 at 3:30 p.m.

Another screening of “Always” has also been added for Wednesday, April 18 at 1 p.m. You’ll receive a $2 discount for that show after purchasing a ticket to “Love On-Air.”