The Happiness of the Katakuris

2001

Comedy / Fantasy / Horror / Musical

89
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 68%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 82%
IMDb Rating 7.1 10 8,415

Synopsis


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December 28, 2020

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720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
1.01 GB
1280*720
Japanese 2.0
R
23.976 fps
113 min
P/S N/A / N/A
1.87 GB
1920×1080
Japanese 2.0
R
23.976 fps
113 min
P/S N/A / N/A

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by BrandtSponseller 9 / 10 / 10

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

Masao Katakuri (Kenji Sawada) has moved his family--his wife, his divorced daughter, her child, his formerly criminal son and his father--to the country, near Mt. Fuji. He purchased a large old home with the intention of converting it into a kind of bed & breakfast, since the road running nearby is supposed to be expanded, which would bring tourists. But the road hasn't been expanded yet and the Katakuris subsequently have no guests. When one finally shows up, mysteriously, he commits suicide during the night. They hide the body to avoid bad publicity. But they seem to be in a patch of bad luck, and more things begin to go wrong. Through it all, however, the family sticks together and sings happy songs. Oh how I wanted to give this film a 10! It has so many elements I love. It's an absurdist mix of horror, surrealism, a musical, claymation, a black comedy, and one of those progressively "going to hell in a handbasket" films ala After Hours (1985), Very Bad Things (1998) or My Boss' Daughter (2003). Unfortunately, Happiness of the Katakuris suffers a bit from being unfocused. All of the individual elements are superb, but director Takashi Miike simply abandons too many interesting threads and the film ends up feeling more like a loose collection of skits. If it were tied together better, this would easily be a 10. Happiness of the Katakuris, which is a "mutated" remake Ji-woon Kim's Choyonghan kajok (The Quiet Family, 1998), begins with a restaurant scene that ends up being unrelated to the rest of the film. While a woman is eating, a strange creature appears in her soup. This initiates a long sequence of claymation. The creature is a small, skinny, albino, white-eyed "demon" who wakes up from being stabbed in the neck with a fork and proceeds to rip out his would-be-consumer's uvula, which he turns into a heart-shaped balloon. The claymation has a strong Tim Burton feel ala The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) and provides a wonderfully surreal and somewhat gory version of a "circle of life", also known as a food chain. At this point I was completely loving the film. Oddly, Miike drops this material and we go back to a standard live-action mode as we learn about the Katakuris, initially from narration by toddler Yurie (Tamaki Miyazaki). I kept thinking that the claymation demons would return somehow, but they're forgotten about, even if claymation eventually makes a return later in the film, with a style more reminiscent of Bruce Bickford, who did the claymation in Frank Zappa's Baby Snakes (1979). Fortunately, the Katakuris are intriguing in their own right, and for a long time the film settles into more of a quirky art-house drama style, albeit with a darker edge due to the fate of the hotel's guests. During this period, a romance subplot enters as we meet Richado Sagawa (Kiyoshiro Imawano), who is courting Katakuri divorcée Shizue (Naomi Nishida). There are a few interesting musical numbers, and the love song between Richado and Shizue has attractive, bright production design. Although some of the songs were a bit bland to me--I prefer the music of, say, Jisatsu saakuru (Suicide Club, 2002)--they are all intriguingly staged, ranging from spoofs of rock videos to The Sound of Music (1965). Miike keeps a wicked sense of humor going throughout the film--there is something funny about most of the characters, most of the ways the characters relate to each other, and most of the scenarios. All of the technical elements in the film are superb. Miike treats us to a lot of interesting cinematography, the location/setting of the Katakuri home is wonderful, and the performances are good. Later, Miike shoots for more of a madcap Monty Pythonesque style, complete with "zombies" nodding their heads and toe-tapping to a song (ala the Camelot dungeon prisoner in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, 1975, or the group of people being crucified in Life of Brian, 1979). The latter reference is particularly apt, as the "message" of The Happiness of the Katakuris, insofar as there is one, ends up being remarkably similar to the message of the song "Always Look On the Bright Side of Life" from Life of Brian. Namely, life is short and often brutal, so we should focus on enjoying ourselves and having a good time with others while we're here; and once we're gone, others should celebrate our life and the time we had on the Earth rather than mourning our passing--somewhat like the funerals in some Caribbean cultures, which involve joyous singing and dancing rather than dour moping and tears. Those are messages that I couldn't agree with more. It's just too bad that Miike couldn't have made the film a bit tighter, but even as loose as it is, you can't afford to miss this one if you have a taste for anything more unusual/surreal.

Reviewed by movieguy1021 9 / 10 / 10

The Happiness of the Katakuris: 7/10

When you think about Japanese cinema, what comes to your mind? I'm sure it's movies like Audition, Ichi the Killer, et cetera. Nine times out of ten, you'd guess it's a horror movies, but nine times out of ten you wouldn't guess a comedy. Even less, you'd say a musical. But if you combine all three, you get The Happiness of the Katakuris, a crazy hybrid (directed, ironically, by the guy who directed the aforementioned Audition) of the three. Actually, four, since I just remembered about the animation. This four-genre film is far from perfect, but it's pretty damn good for the combination of the genres. The Katakuri clan owns a guest house on Mt. Fuji, because they hear a road will be built leading up to the house, therefore, much business. However, the road hasn't been built yet, the Katakuris haven't had a single guest, and Shizue (Naomi Nishida) is recently divorced. Soon, however, she finds Richard Sagawa (Kiyoshiro Imawano), and they fall in love. But is everything what it seems? And once the first guest comes, he mysteriously dies (Murder? Suicide? the song-complete with smoke and blue lights-asks). Soon more guests come, they all die, and the Katakuris have to bond together to figure out a solution to this problem. The movie starts off with a couple minutes of claymation that serves as an odd transition to the actual story. I guess it was a pretty low-budget movie, because for two other "action-packed" scenes, claymation is also used. It works well in the context of the story, but a little unexpected, too. It's not jarring or anything, and the clay characters look like the real ones (as much as possible), so that's good. Some of the humor comes from the obvious (when the father is swinging on a swing he claims to safe, it breaks), some from the absurd (a man singing in a music video in drag, obviously, that everyone thinks is a woman), and some comes from the quirkiness of the musical numbers, like that aforementioned one. There's also a delirious ballad, some slow songs, and some joyous ones. There's even a sing-along. There're some lulls in between songs, as expected in all musicals, but you'd be surprised how much reading subtitles doesn't distract you from the songs. It's just like reading subtitles throughout a film. It is a bit weird during the sing-along, though. It's not really a "true" horror, although there's a few gruesome images, and the themes are quite dark. They're presented humorously, though, and that's all that counts. Taken apart, each lacks. The comedy's not hilarious, the horror's not scary, the animation's just random, and the musical numbers, except for a few, aren't really memorable. But I still think you should see it. I'll bet that you've never seen anything like it before, and you probably never will until Hollywood remakes it. My rating: 7/10 Rated R for violent images and some sexual content.

Reviewed by Nyagtha 9 / 10 / 10

Like a field of fluffy bunnies.

There is little more to say about this film than to recommend it heartily to anyone with a sense of humour. I mean a proper sense of humour. If you have ever wet yourself sitting through Monty Python you are going to enjoy this. This isn't Will and Grace. Most of the songs are great, the song based around a dead man with scissors in his neck is brilliant. They are cheesy, OTT and have some of the best dance moves since Ricky Martin tried dismally to samba his way into the charts. I am still humming along to some of the tunes (from the Katakuris, not Ricky Martin. Although I wish he'd been a guest at the Katakuri's guest house.) My greatest problem with the film comes from its advertising. It is labelled as a "Cannibal Musical" in some press releases. Ignore this. There is no cannibalism in this film. Not even a suggestion of it. Nobody even says in close up; "Oh I am hungry" and then is juxtaposed with a shot of a dead body. The only feasible description of this film which mentions cannibalism is: "Is not about cannibalism, unless if by cannibalism you mean songs". You are going to have a great time watching this film and if you are familiar with Miike I think it is safe to say that this film is more shocking that even Ichi the Killer. Why? Because at the end of it you feel all warm and fluffy inside and I dare say nobody expects this from Takashi Miike. I certainly didn't.

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