Friday, December 25, 2009

Happiness of the Katakuris a.k.a. Katakuri-ke no kôfuku (2001)

Funny, but batshit Takashi Miike musical about a family dealing with house-guests repeatedly dying while under their care. The story is light and unchallenging, and provides enough humor and interest to (barely) sustain ones interest. More notable are the directorial touches, such as the musical numbers, which punch up self-consciously corny and cliched scenarios. They are occupied by smoke machines, goofy lyrics, and borderline-slapstick choreography. These scenes are the liveliest in the film, and give the film a subversive edge that rises it above a simple family comedy.

However, the best scene in the film is the opening, a claymation introduction to a weird kind of creature that eats a woman's uvula, and flies away before spawning itself. The spawn, however, does not make a significant appearance in the rest of the film, and I was hoping that this completely fantastical element to the plot would interrupt the relatively mundane proceedings that follow. Even though the cool-ass monster sequence is self-contained, the family plot does pick up once the guests start biting it, and the movie develops its own charming brand of humor. Still, I kept hoping the monster would reveal himself as being the cause of all the deaths, and the film would take a more traditionally Miike turn. Alas...

Recommended for fans of subversive, goofy cinema (John Waters, etc.) and patronizing Japanese humor.

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