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"The Apology King" is one of the strangest Japanese comedies I've ever seen. Not only that, but I found myself laughing out loud many times-- and everyone loves a movie that can do that to us.
The film begins in an incredibly unusual and creative manner. The lead, Mr. Yozuru, begins talking to a theater audience--telling him about his service that can help you to apologize for even the most grievous mistakes. Then, several huge audience blunders are illustrated in a hilarious manner--such as the woman who's alarm goes off during the film and the guy caught video recording the film itself...THIS film! It's all very surreal and definitely caught my attention early on--a definite plus for "The Apology King".
The rest of the film is broken down into six of Mr. Yozuru's most successful cases and they are presented one after the other. What's unusual is that these stories eventually all inter-connect and the irony of the stories is what makes it a lot of fun. And, what's especially interesting is that in the final case, you get to hear Yozuru's story as well. Each is terrific, though I'll admit that the segment about offending the nation of Mantan did go on a bit long--hence my giving this film a 9 instead of a 10. Plus, I almost never give a film a 10-- and the film not quite achieving it is not a sign it isn't a wonderful movie. During all these segments, Yozuru is instructing his clients about how to apologize perfectly--and it also shows how horrible they do without his help.
The first case is quite cute and involves a spoiled young lady who was raised abroad. In Japan, apologizing is practically a national pastime- -but because she was raised elsewhere, a HUGE blowup occurred when she offended some members of the Yakuza (this is like the Japanese mafia-- NOT a group of people you want to offend to say the least!). Then, in the second case (one that might offend you but which elicited many belly-laughs for me), you have a case where a man is sued for sexual harassment. The guy is 100% clueless and each time he tries to correct his mistake, it only compounds the problem because he's a total idiot! But Yozuru's solution is...simply amazing!!! I think this is the best scene in the film. The third involves a couple of famous actors who are divorced. Their son attacked someone and they want to apologize for him on camera--and screw it up royally each time. Again, Yozuru needs to save them--though surprisingly the conclusion is actually kind of touching. The fourth begins to merge the stories of characters in case one and two. This one, by the way, is a tad weak but also rather short. The fifth begins with some movie producers accidentally creating a HUGE international incident--and potentially getting themselves executed for offending the easily offended Mantanians. It's extremely funny but goes on a bit long. And, within this fifth one is Yozuru's story. And, during these final stories, EVERYONE from the previous films is pulled into it! But this is not all, after, there is a HUGE and lengthy music video. While is this an odd way to end a film, it's not without precedent (I saw this also in the Takeshi Kitano version of "Zatioichi")--and the song is extremely fun and will make your feet bounce along...even though you have no idea why they're doing this!
The film gets a 10 out of 10 for weirdness and a 9 out of 10 for making me laugh--and I wish I could give it a 9.5 overall! And, I love to laugh and find that Japanese comedies often make me laugh the most. Films like this and "Happiness of the Katakuris", "Tampopo" and many others are excellent reasons for you to give up your fear of subtitles and try a Japanese comedy yourself. And, if you know of any really good ones, drop us a line--I am always looking for some recommendations.
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