This Japanese production borrows much from the Gene Kelly-Donald O'Connor-Debbie Reynolds-era musicals of a couple of generations ago. The story centers around Yumi (played by the beautiful model and TV star Yuka), an unlucky-in-love department store worker who stumbles upon a rather inept genie (Naoto Takenaka, who starred in the noteworthy "Shall We Dance?" from 1996) who she enlists to help find her former boyfriend in Australia. The Yumi character is also noteworthy for the small musical teddy bear she constantly carries as a good-luck charm (a licensing bonanza waiting to happen here in the U.S.!).
Takenaka does his typical fine job of carrying the film's comedy and some of the musical numbers, but this film owes much of its charm to the young actress, Yuka. She began her career in Japan as a swimsuit model and has parlayed that rather mundane beginning into a career bordering on superstardom, largely on the weight of a screen presence that radiates kindness, and an almost indescribably beautiful smile. She carries her comic burden well, particularly in scenes where she expresses disgust and/or frustration at her genie's missteps. The movie's unabashedly sentimental--some might say "over the top"--but it's clear that director Shusuke crafted the film to be exactly that.
As the reviewer from Germany mentioned, it is conceivable that an English-speaking version of this movie could be made in the States or in Britain; the storyline's universal appeal and its characters seem to lend themselves to a project that would appeal to a broad audience, including children.
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