Motoki Katsuhide's "Drugstore Girl" is a light, cute, and often pathetic comedic story of a beautiful young pharmacology student who turns a group of middle-aged men into raving, lecherous gits whilst starting a new life in a new town. Obayashi Keiko (Tanaka Rena) finds her live-in boyfriend cheating on her and subsequently bolts her apartment in Shinjuku, boarding the JR and basically disembarking at a random station. She ends up in the town of Masao on the outskirts of Tokyo-to and there she begins a new life (except for the fact that she has her pharmacology classes back in the city). Whimsically letting things fall into place, she lands a job at "Hustle Drug", a new Wal-Mart sort of super store which threatens to put the local mom & pop merchants out of business. A group of middle-aged men - consisting of three of the local merchants (druggist, baker and kombini owner), a monk and Keaton-esquire homeless man - initially plan to sabotage the grand opening of Hustle Drug, but one sight of the lovely Obayashi and the old boys quickly forget about their economic agenda. When their leader Nabeshima (Emoto Akira) discovers that Obayashi plays lacrosse, the old boys set out to learn this strange new sport, complete with fishing nets and protective gear made from cardboard boxes and bamboo. Their intent, of course, is to use this as an excuse to win her favour, but she cleverly (or obliviously) decides to train them in the sport, which popularizes it immediately throughout Masao and revives the stagnant bamboo handicraft industry by turning the local craftsmen into distinctly Japanese crosse makers (no lightweight Fiberglas or Polyamide laminates here). From there, the story becomes less about the drugstore and more about the newly-formed old boys lacrosse side, and the climactic match against a side made up of (presumably) American Indian players. A bit brief and somewhat underdeveloped in parts, the story capitalises on the recurring Japanese cinematic theme of the hopeless newbie underdog taking on the big guys by means of their undying competitive spirit and instant devotion to a sport that they have only recently discovered. It works for the most part, and the movie is a delight, particularly the opening scene when Obayashi catches her boyfriend Hitoshi cheating on her. Tanaka Rena ("Tokyo Marigold", "Gangu Shuriya", "Hatsukoi") is surprisingly animated in this comedic role, and Emoto Akira ("Shall We Dance?", "Unagi", "Waterboys") is annoying yet funny as the middle-aged bosouzoku-turned-druggist. The rest of the old boys are even more annoying if not downright stupid, but Tanaka Rena's splendid performance more than makes up for it.
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