Sunday, July 29, 2012

Jmovie review: University of Laughs/Warai no daigaku

 There's only one screencap because this is how the movie looks like most of the time. :)

Utter freaking genius. I've been watching a lot of Mitani Koki stuff this year with Furuhata Ninzaburo, Minna no Ie, A Ghost of a Chance looking for something that could come close to Radio no Jikan and Warai no daigaku is it. Big thanks to Captain Banana for recommending it!

There are two types of comedies; first is the one that tries to throw 100 jokes against the wall and hopes that at least 50 of them stick.You know the ones where the best jokes are in the trailer and the movie feels like its wasting time in between jokes. You're satisfied if it can makes you laugh out loud at least 5 times and that's all you remember of the movie.

The second is where the plot itself is the joke and the movie is not concerned with manufacturing 1 laugh every five minutes. It is concerned with executing the plot well. One such movie that comes to mind is Bowfinger which is about a bunch of misfits trying to make a movie starring a movie star without him realising that he is in it. Warai no daigaku is another such a movie where the the plot is a stage comedy writer Tsubaski (Inagaki Goro) trying to get his script approved by the stern and unsmiling government censor Sakisaka (Yakusho Koji)

I did not laugh out loud once during the movie but I was smiling all the way through because it was just that funny. The joke is the censor Sakisaka who keeps heaping unreasonable requests on Tsubaki and everytime Tsubaki makes the changes, somehow the script turns out even funnier than before.

Warai no Daigaku just oozes comedy from the banter between the Sakisaka and Tsubaki and the ways Tsubaki turns the requests into more gags for the script. It is a movie where the characters become real. After all, it is basically a movie about two men in a room with a script and it actually started out as a play. Plus there is of course the political subtext about government censorship.

Inagaki Goro actually does a good job as Tsubaki. Everytime I've seen him in doramas, he is always so wooden and in Warai no daigaku he looks like a real actor. Yakusho Koji is his usual awesome self. Is this better than Radio no Jikan? I don't think so, though its been years since I last saw Radio no Jikan and would need to rewatch it to be sure but it doesn't change the fact that Warai no daigaku very, very good.

Warai no daigaku made me smile throughout the movie made me feel for the characters and appreciate how polished the script was. If you've seen Kisaragi, its very similar where despite the fact the whole movie is set in one room, you are hanging on every word. Truly magnificent movie and I hope to see something of this level again from Mitani Koki.


Captain Banana said...

Glad you liked it!

Now, if you haven't already you might like movies by Juzo Itami, start with Tampopo :)

Akiramike said...

I've seen Tampopo which makes me hungry and I've got Minbo no Onna somewhere.

Ersby said...

This is one of my favourite films. I'm still baffled how Inagaki Goro can be so good in this and so bad in other stuff. I guess he needs godd material. Did you cry at the end? I did.

Akiramike said...

Ersby, kinda of like Ijyuiin in Tetsu no Hone? I will admit to having something in my eye at the end. Its such a painful ending.

The conflict between Sakisaka's pride towards his job and the script that he molded together with Tsubasaki. Why did Tsubasaki have to tell Sakisaka his reasons? At the same time, I understand why because they have such a bond that not even Tsubasaki has with anyone from the theater.

Tsubasaki getting called up and Sakisaka knowing that he's probably never coming back. A brilliant piece of writing that will never be seen by the public.

Antspace said...

Having watched this, I'd like to comment on the Fellini/ Rota context. This is definitely an ode to them. The music, the theatrical melancholy. Happy to have seen the best of Italian cinema in a Japanese movie! Beauty versus censorship/ military dictatorship....
Loved this movie, thanks!