A Korean comedy about government subsidized zero population growth, “Mission Sex Control” is pregnant with humorous possibilities, but flubs its third trimester. Inspired by actual 1970s South Korean government policy, pic takes its time setting up its central premise. Strong local flavor will prohibit Western consumption, but given the awkwardness with which comedy and drama is blended, this effort appears unlikely to appeal to the South Korean palette either.
In the ’70s, South Korea worried population growth would negate economic growth, and cause rampant poverty. The government developed family planning initiatives and dispatched counselors like Park Hyun-joo (Kim Jung-eun of “Blossom Again”) to educate rural people. After a couple of amusing missteps, villagers, led by Byun Suk-gu (Lee Beom-soo), cut a deal so that their crippling debts will be cleared if no babies are born for one year. Fly in the bean curd is the village chief (Byun Hee-bong) who anxiously wants an heir. Though the script delivers some early gut-busters and amiable perfs help ride over multiple weak spots, dramatic switcheroo in the final third is too intense to reconcile with what has gone before. Tech credits are solid.