Friday, December 23, 2011

Tokyo Godfathers

2003, PG-13, 91 minutes
The 73rd Virgin says...Three homeless Japanese try to survive Christmas in snowy Tokyo while keeping a foundling infant alive. Along the way they inadvertently save a mobster from being run over by his own car, survive a hit attempt on his son in law by a Mexican waiter in a wig, hide with the waiter's wife, survive a beating by wealthy thrill-seekers, are rescued by denizens of a drag queen bar, prevent a suicide, survive an ambulance running into a building, accidentally give the baby to the psychotic woman who stole it from a hospital, and finish with a big chase scene followed by a Japanese-reggae version of "Song of Joy" as the credits roll.
And those are just the funny parts.

Best Christmas movie ever. Might as well begin with the goofy end to the "Making of" special feature with the voice actress and director Satoshi Kon. It sort of captures the spirit.

Our homeless "family" includes a transvestite named Miss Hana or Uncle Bag, a drunken, debt-ridden deadbeat father named Gin or Geezer, and a sullen teenage runaway, Miyuki, who stabbed her father because her cat went missing. 
On Christmas night they find a baby girl abandoned in a heap of garbage bags along with a bus station locker key. Miss Hana has always wanted a daughter so they at first decide to keep it. But as they investigate the belongings in the locker and pick up clues to the identity of the parents, they instead attempt to return her the next day. Much hilarity and drama ensue.

Here they rescue the mobster, discover that the presumed mother was a stripper, and witness a hit.

In an especially disturbing scene Gin is attacked by a group of thrill-seekers, one of whom chats on the cell phone while they beat the homeless senseless. Yeah, I know, Merry Christmas. While that's all going on Miyuki is holed up with the Mexican hit man's wife or something.

Followed by the funniest attempted suicide scene I've seen in a while.

There is way too much material here to summarize, but it's all somehow crammed into 91 minutes. If it seems weirdly grim, I can only say it's a nice relief from most Christmas movies and it still ends with suitable seasonal cheer. This is anime for everyone in that the plot is understandable and there are no shifting dimensions, alien wizards, stoic heroes named Sailor Bebop or any such, just three very funny voice actors (there is no English soundtrack - just subtitles) and a hilarious script that moves fast.

1 comment:

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