The Happiness of the Katakuris

2001 black comic musical (with claymation!)

Rating: 14/20

Plot: The titular family lives in the middle of nowhere, operating a bed-and-breakfast that nobody visits because the dad heard that a new road was going to be constructed that would be great for business. The family's far from happy. The son's got a criminal background, and the daughter is recently divorced. But their luck changes when they actually get a customer. Then their luck changes again when the customer commits suicide. They decide to cover it up. Soon, more customers arrive and wind up dead. Apparently, that's a problem. They sing about it!

This one starts with a woman in a restaurant eating soup. She finds a demon thing in the soup ("Waiter, there's a demon in my soup!") and the whole scene morphs into claymation. The demon steals her uvula and flies off. Eventually, a bird gets involved and the grandfather of the family throws some firewood at it from an absurd distance and hits it. Then, we get to meet the Katakuris. I've got no idea what the demon or the woman's uvula had to do with anything. This is the second Takashi Miike movie I've seen in the last couple weeks. He's the type of director who needs to calm down, have somebody gift him a funnel, or hire an assistant to throw cold water in his face every twenty-three minutes or so. This is a wild ride, not really letting up after the scene with the uvula-thieving demon, and the mashing together of genres (the Sound of Music meets Dawn of the Dead description on the poster is appropriate) is almost unnerving. But in a delightful way! You can go into this movie expecting the unexpected, but Miike will be a step ahead of you. It's like he's discovered the 3-D equivalent to "unexpected," and uses it to attack the viewer as he also assaults with tacky color, gross imagery, gross sound effects, and tacky musical numbers. You know how you sometimes come across a video clip of footage from a Japanese game show and you watch it and think, "Everybody in Japan must be nuts!"? This is the movie equivalent to that. Nothing's right about The Happiness of the Katakuris. It's unapologetically dopey and covered in a few thick and raunchy layers of cheese. The music really is terrible, dated Japanese pop with embarrassingly terrible lyrics. You really have to sort of endure the musically numbers. The onslaught of that with the gross-out imagery and the seemingly random metamorphosis into claymation is enough to make you dizzy. But again, it's in a delightful way! The humor's black, absurdly black, and if you can't laugh at death, this probably isn't the movie for you. As unhinged as this is, it all manages to keep things together for an (expected?) feel-good ending. This definitely isn't for everybody. In fact, it's probably not for very many people at all, but if you think you might be the type of person who would like a movie where one of the first five words in the script is "uvula," you might want to give it a shot.

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