A radio play is going to go on air at a Tokyo radio station. It is a weepy melodrama written by housewife Miyako, who is the winner of the competition run by the station. Suddenly, the ... See full summary »
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A radio play is going to go on air at a Tokyo radio station. It is a weepy melodrama written by housewife Miyako, who is the winner of the competition run by the station. Suddenly, the hot-tempered lead actress Nokko decides she wants the name of her character to be Mary Jane and not Ritsuko. That leads to the chain of events which changes the play completely. Written by
Toshiyuki Hosokawa introduces his character as Donald McDonald after seeing a McDonald's fast food bag. The reason for this is because Ronald McDonald is known as "Donald McDonald" in Japan. See more »
At a time when Japanese movies are becoming less and less imaginative and more and more standardized, THE RADIO HOUR stands as one of the happiest surprises from their industry in many years. Koki Mitani's script and direction are beautifully assured, and the actors, particularly the hilarious Jun Inoue as the cheerful, prankish Hiromitsu, couldn't be better. Mitani doesn't bother directly explaining anything to the audience; rather, he expertly shows a wide range of human behavior, each quirk of which leads to yet another bizarre twist in the ongoing live-broadcast drama. Fortunately, Mitani likes all his characters, and with marvelous economy, sees that we well understand why they behave the way they do. In fact as the story unfolds, one begins to see Mitani's story as something of an allegory for the filmmaking process, or the process of any endeavor, including the theater or the radio, that involves a broad number of collaborators. There's the actor who'll go along with anything, and the actor who won't; the actress who demands a star turn (but mainly because she feels underappreciated); the technicians who've seen it all before, and scramble to improvise; and, finally, the playwright herself, increasingly weirded out by what's becoming a perversion of everything she intended. But, finally, was what she intended any better than what what the rest of the team threw together? They needed her to get started; she needed them for the same reason.
Collaboration means interdependence, and if the audience is finally happy, as Mitani ultimately suggests, then what better outcome could there be? There is not a finer or more cheerful film to come out of Japan since the last works of Juzo Itami, and it is fitting that his widow, the great actress Nobuko Miyamoto, contributes a (nearly invisible) cameo, to one of the few Japanese films to emulate the spirit of her late husband's art. And like Itami's films, THE RADIO HOUR is that rare Japanese comedy that audiences anywhere can enjoy
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