It's brave that such a relatively niche UK TV show should have a go at 'jumping the shark' onto the big screen. Would fans like it? And, just as importantly, would newcomers to the characters, like me, be able to enjoy the film as a standalone entity? The answer to the last question is a qualified "yes".
- It well-surpasses the "6 laugh test" for a comedy. There are some scenes that I found extremely funny, with others that rated highly for me on the David Brent / Alan Partridge scale of cringiness.
- I've seen comment that the story is "silly" and "unbelievable". But having experienced the crazy clash between English and Japanese culture first hand, it strikes me as very true to form! The way in which the Japanese music execs try to stylise the ground as a 'boy band' ("Bang Boys"!), which Grindah greedily goes along with, is a nice satire on the music industry asserting its brand over musician's art.
- A subplot of a love story between the inept Steves and the cute Japanese translator Ishika (Ayumi Itô) is nicely done and strangely touching.
- The good news is that you don't need any previous experience of the characters to get fun out of the movie: you can jump right in. That being said though, I'm sure fans of the series will get more out of this than I did.
- While the ending was uplifting, I was itching to know what fallout (or success?) there was from the event we witnessed. Perhaps if its a box office success (unlikely I think!) then there will be a sequel.
Summary Thoughts on "People Just Do Nothing: Big in Japan": IMDB is littered with disastrous reviews of British TV shows that have tried and failed to make the leap from the small screen to the big screen. "On the Buses"; "Are You Being Served?"; "Steptoe and Son"; "Please Sir"; "Love Thy Neighbour" - the list is endless. They are mostly all horribly unfunny. Even the great "Morecambe and Wise", although showing occasional moments of brilliance, struggled to fully land any of their three big-screen outings.
The 'go-to' of many of these efforts was to "go abroad": take the well-loved characters and put them into a 'bigger' and stranger pool. So "People Just Do Nothing: Big in Japan" was following a well-trodden path here. It's a tribute to the team and their TV-series director Jack Clough, in his feature debut, that they pretty much pull it off.
I'd like to agree with Kevin Maher of "The Times" that the movie is full of "Japanese stereotypes... drunken businessmen, passive giggling women etc". But having travelled extensively on business in Japan, it seems pretty close to the mark with its observations to me! More importantly, the film never seems to be particularly derogatory or disrespectful of the culture. For example, they take their shoes off too much!
Key to its box office success will be whether or not it can attract an audience outside of its niche TV fan-bases. As a member of that sub-group, I really wasn't expecting to enjoy this one, but I actually did. It was good fun, and if you want a good laugh at the cinema - a pretty rare thing - then I'd recommend this one, even if - like me - you haven't seen the original TV show.
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