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The Happiness of the Katakuris
"Julie Andrews has nothing on us!"

We're so happy! The Karakuris at play.
Year: 2001  
Director: Takashi Miike  
Producer: Hirotsugu Yoshida  
Cast: Kenji Sawada, Naomi Nishida, Keiko Matsuzaka. Shinji Takeda, Tetsuro Tamba, Naoto Takenaka, Kiyoshiro Iwamano
The Skinny: Black comedy suspense musical about a family's attempts to open a guesthouse in the country.
Review
by
Magicvoice:

     The Katakuris are an urban family trying to build a life together by leaving the city and opening a guesthouse (called the "White Lover's Inn") in the mountains. The only problem is the main road which was supposed to be built right near the White Lover's Inn doesn't exist yet, and the guests are few and far between. To make matters worse, the people who do patronize the establishment have a nasty habit of dying. Faced with this crisis, the family bonds together to protect their dream. Instead of telling the police, they bury all of their deceased guests in the nearby woods in hopes of avoiding a scandal.
     All of this happens while the family intermittently breaks into songs of many varieties. There are eighties and nineties-style pop and sugary sweet ballads, which serve to develop the characters and their interaction with each other. Father Masao (Kenji Sawada) and mother Terue (Keiko Matsuzaka) are devoted and very much in love. Their son Masayuki (Shinji Takeda) is troubled and has a bit of a shady past. Their daughter Shizue (Godzilla 2000's Naomi Nishida) is a love-starved divorced single mother who falls immediately in love with the film's best supporting character, con-artist Richard Sagawa of the "Royal Family." Sagawa is played delightfully by raspy voiced singer Kiyoshiro Iwamano, who executes screendom's single best interpretation of bowel distress. It's a joy to behold. And finally, there's loveable Grandpa Katakuri (Tetsuro Tamba) and his beloved dog Pochi, as well as Shizue's young daughter who narrates the film from an off-screen adult perspective.
     The Happiness of Katakuris waxes philosophical on some very interesting ideas involving mankind's place in the universe and how we persevere through life's adversities as a species. We are born, we live, we die, and then it starts all over again. It's a multi-layered, cross-genre film that defies all categorization and jumps seamlessly from being hysterically funny to scary to dramatically heart-wrenching. The sudden transitions from claymation to live action are a little jarring, but it's so creatively inspired that it's a pleasure to watch. The world that Takashi Miike has created here is a bizarre, but not uncomfortable place. The Katakuris are regular people trying to build their family dream. Despite their frequent lack of good judgement, they're easy to identify with and root for. Takashi Miike is a mad genius. Even if he never makes another film, this one will go down in the history books as being one of his most ambitious. (Magicvoice 2002)

Notes: • Remake of a Korean film called The Quiet Family.  
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 3 NTSC
Fortex Group
Widescreen
Japanese Language Track
Dolby Digital
English & Chinese Subtitles
 
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