Punn is a third-year film student who has a gigantic, hopeless crush on TV star Ashi, so when he lands an internship to work on the sets of Ashi’s ongoing television show, Punn has the chance of a lifetime to get close to his idol.

Directed by David Bigander, the 2023 Thai romantic-comedy “Be Mine Superstar” re-unites actors Ja Phachara Suansri and First Chalongrat Novsamrong who were last seen together as pen-friends in “Remember Me”. While Ja plays the bumbling immature college student Punn, First is the graceful actor Ashi, who is sincere at work, has a hit soap show called “Prince of Love”, leaving him little time for romance. Bosston Suphadach Wilairat plays Ashi’s co-star and close friend Mingmueang, who sees through Punn’s feelings for Ashi and decides to play cupid between the two. Spread over 12 episodes, the story explores if a love story is possible between a simple intern and a sophisticated star.

While the primary plot is somewhat realistic, it does provide entertaining material for a romantic comedy, at least for the first few episodes. Ja Phachara Suansri portrays the character of Punn, a love-struck and somewhat childish individual. On the other hand, First Chalongrat Novsamrong shines as Ashi, portraying a calm and collected character who remains the most stable presence throughout the series. However, a notable deviation occurs in episode eleven, where the creators suddenly steer his character toward eccentric behavior following heartbreak, rather than allowing him to gracefully grieve as the mature individual he had been portrayed as earlier in the series. Noon Sutthipha Kongnawdee was hilarious as Ashi’s co-star Worra, who is theatrical in her performance when the two are working on their television show “Prince of Love”, and is a total brat off air. Despite her small supporting role, Noon made a fun comical addition to the tale.

Ashi secures the lead role in a Japanese film, and as a result, the series shifts its focus to picturesque Japanese locations in the second half. The cinematography in these new settings is undeniably striking. From traditional wooden houses to steaming onsens (hot springs), the creators incorporate numerous scenic shots in the final few episodes, including some beautiful snowy romantic scenes between Punn and Ashi. Even otherwise, the series is visually engaging, as much of the story unfolds during the shooting of Ashi’s TV series, “Prince of Love.” This periodic soap opera humorously pokes fun at cliche tropes found in Thai dramas, although, ironically, even “Be Mine Superstar” relies on many tried-and-tested formulas. Regardless, the “series within a series” premise provides the creators with ample opportunities to incorporate beautiful historical set designs and pretty looking costumes. The color palette throughout the runtime is bright, bubbly, and summer-themed, while the Japanese segment offers a pleasant winter wonderland interlude.

There are two major sub-plots in “Be Mine Superstar.” One follows Mingmueang’s unexpected romance with a doctor named Namning (Jo Kavinpat Thanahiransilp), while the second sub-plot revolves around the fierce rivalry between Mingmeuang and Ashi’s manager, Somwan (Dada Warinda Damrongphol), and their former exploitative manager, Sompriao (Thongthong Mokjok). Sompriao manages the actor Title (Wayo Peerawat Sareewong), who is also in love with Ashi, and the duo are constantly scheming throughout the series. Some of their actions make no sense; for example, in an attempt to keep Punn away from Ashi, Sompriao offers to become his artist manager and secure modeling and acting gigs for him. Huh? It’s the silliest villainy in the history of television villains, where the antagonist offers a struggling college student an opportunity to become an actor and even pays for their modeling portfolio. Anyway…

Ja Phachara Suansri and First Chalongrat Novsamrong look incredibly great as an onscreen couple, a fact that creators obviously recognize, which is why “Be Mine Superstar” is the fourth time they are being paired romantically with each other. While there were still traces of awkwardness between the two in the 2021 romantic drama “Don’t Say No”, the two have come a long way since then and their chemistry has vastly improved. But unfortunately, the muddled script for “Be Mine Superstar” fails to fully harness their romantic potential. A lot more time is spent on other supporting characters and conflicts instead of developing a convincing relationship between the leads. It would be interesting to see how these actors fare with a better-written script and direction.

This series could have been wrapped up in 10 episodes or even less, but instead, it is overstretched to 12 episodes, with a completely pointless twist in the eleventh episode. Punn practically worships Ashi, but due to a misunderstanding, the two briefly drift apart. Punn behaves completely out of character and doesn’t even give the love of his life a chance to explain. But well, the romance between the two of them made little sense from the start. Watch “Be Mine Superstar” if you are fine with weak plots, as long as the series features some great-looking actors.

Rating: 5.5 on 10.

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