Suwingu gâruzu (2004) Poster

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9/10
Laugh so hard you'll puke into a tuba
rooprect29 June 2006
I believe it was the great Leslie Nielsen who first puked into a tuba in Naked Gun 33 1/3. Call me juvenile, but that gag ALWAYS gets me.

In "Swing Girls" the gags are not always original, but maybe that's what makes this such a hilarious film. Everything is so delightfully predictable that you needn't waste time trying to unravel it. Instead you just sit back and enjoy the presentation.

The humour is largely visual, but it's not corny or slapstick. It's hard to describe--perhaps I'd categorize it with Monty Python's deadpan style: subtle and classy while not being afraid to make fun of itself. And this movie definitely makes fun of itself, like in the scene where the kids are running from a ferocious wild boar which is quite plainly a stuffed prop. Juxtapose the bizarrely inappropriate Louis Armstrong tune "What a Wonderful World" on top, and you have yourself 3 solid minutes of asphyxiating laughter.

Now comedy aside, it's important that you know something about the music. These kids are actually playing their own instruments. The fingering and breathing technique is authentic, right down to the last flubbed note. I think this is worthy of mention because it adds a certain authenticity to the film, much like in SPINAL TAP. Not only are they acting, they're really playing too.

Let me finish by saying that YOU DON'T HAVE TO LIKE SWING MUSIC to enjoy this film. Me, I'm a fan of death metal. But by the end of this film (and for some time thereafter) I sure as heck found myself whistling "Take the 'A' Train". Can't get the bloody tune out of my head now.
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8/10
"There are two kinds of people in the world...
Gigo_Satana5 April 2005
people who swing and people who don't." Obviously going into this movie it's preferable that you have an open mind to a music style such as jazz, but even if you don't it won't be a problem. This film doesn't try to educate or force music on you but merely presents a situation where an unlikely group of students get involved with a music class and then on their own find passion for jazz.

This film could have done much more with its concept and frankly I'm glad that it didn't. It could have added melodramatic situations or over the top comedy, or even both genres simultaneously, but it didn't. Instead this movie took on one direction and made the best of it. Not once did it drag nor were any of its characters annoying or unconvincing. It simply made time fly with pleasant sounds of music that we have heard before but in a situation surrounding girls that normally wouldn't "act up" this way.

Now there is a new alternative for the common association and portrayal of cute Japanese school girls with films like Suicide Club and All About Lily Chou-Chou. Although Swing Girls also carries itself with various themes of music, it is the complete opposite of the other two films noted.

8 out of 10 for being amusingly upbeat, simple and yet confidently delivered without tiring clichés.

Extra Note: For those of you who couldn't get enough of Swing Girls, a new live DVD has been released entitiled "Swing Girls: First And Last Concert", where you can see the original cast and other film-related musicians performing.
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9/10
love the swing!
kmevy19 June 2006
what a fun! I was totally surprised by this film; at first i had the prejudice that the whole thing could turn out like a hysterical teenage comedy but it didn't, luckily.

The light hearted feeling in this film was so comfortable. It is just like as someone already wrote in the comments. This film really does complement the, in movies or animes often seen, generalized or sometimes sexist image of Japanese school girls. The soundtrack, beside the jazz music, was also excellent, though it was the common "japanese-drama" background-music (accoustic guitar and stuff). The Jazz music covers solely standards and wasn't very artistically played but it was, combined with this movie, awesome! The acting was also very nice, however there were some awkward moments when the acting felt a little bit exaggerated. But that's fine with me, considering that many of the cast debuted with this film.

This could have been a reason to give this film a 8/10 but the funky finale made a 9/10 out of it. ;)
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A Nutshell Review: Swing Girls
DICK STEEL19 March 2005
From the director of Waterboys comes a new drama-comedy Swing Girls, and I'm a happy camper. I mean, what can go wrong with combining Japanese Schoolgirls (drool?) and Jazz? Absolutely nothing! The premise and narrative is formulaic for this kind of "feel good carpe diem" shows - a bunch of misfits are thrown together by circumstance, to escape the dread of make up Math lessons during the holidays, they enroll (not voluntarily at first) to form a Big Band, face the great uphill task of getting funds for instruments, rehearsing and getting their act together, before ending it all with a cheery big bang.

But as always, it's the delivery that matters. And this show delivers at all fronts. From the many comedic and zany moments, to preaching "never give ups", the story is breezy and the pacing comfortable. The main leads are rock solid good lookers, while the supporting casts consists of quirky characters, like the rocker chicks (huh? in a jazz band?! watch to find out!), gangster-ish mechanic wimps, and a teacher-maestro wannabe, brings much laughter even though at times their characters might seem one dimensional.

What works is definitely the chemistry amongst the cast. It seems, from the out takes, that they had tremendous fun in making this film, and it shows in the end product.

One gripe you may have about this film is that the band, when they finally get their act together, always seem to play the same old piece, when you're craving for more. Well, that's what made the finale work, by building the expectation, then surpassing it - it's 15 minutes of pure musical splendor, and it really made me wanna stand up from my seat and swing along. Too bad I didn't do that, cos I know the entire audience might just join along with me! So if you're feeling down, and somewhat bored, give this movie a go, and I'd guarantee, you'll be swinging and jazzing along when you emerge from the theatre, craving for more.
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10/10
Just amazing!!
bloggerguy5 July 2005
This is the best japanase comedy i ve ever watched! without a doubt u will fall in love with this Japanese school jazz band!

prepare to enjoy an extraordinary movie! you will laugh a lot!

it is important to highlight that even when you are gonna have fun, you will have the opportunity to learn at the same time about the social problems that the jap. public high school students have to face in modern japan. (family disintegration, school dropouts, the high consumption of brands - cartier, armani,etc- among jap. adolescents, mediocre professors, etc)

if we become extremely critical this movie will get 8/10 or 9/10 on the worst scenario. but because i enjoyed it so much and all of my friends loved it too, so we think this movie deserve 10/10!
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10/10
Wonderful!
lutra_riverdog17 August 2006
I got to see this as it was released in Japan on DVD and it does have English subtitles. 'Swing Girls' has got to be the funniest and most honest 'feel-good' flick I have seen a very long time. Having lived in Japan for a number of years and having two Japanese daughters (one playing in a junior high school orchestra), I feel I'm qualified to at least say that the 'silly Japanese school girl' is portrayed in the best possible light. So if there are silly situations, it is only because they are a bunch of silly girls that have to come clean in a serious situation, i.e. high school competition. Other than not meeting any of Uncle Waldo's criteria for a five-star movie, I have no idea why this movie is not already distributed in USA. And that is a shame.
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9/10
Thoroughly Enjoyable
crossbow01068 March 2008
From the beginning you realize that this is not a silly teen movie about a group of girls who act initially as substitutes for the school brass band. This movie actually has so much heart, its great to watch. Its full of good humor and all the girls of the title are engaging. Part of the time I was reminded of "Hula Girls", which has a premise that is a bit similar, but this is a better film. Its also better than the also similar "Linda Linda Linda". The girls learn jazz, going through the usual learning curves. The success or failure of this film hinges upon whether you like the characters, and I do. They are not caricatures, not over the top, just girls who want to play jazz. Another thing I liked a lot was that the film doesn't have any soppy coming of age romance subplots, which would retract from the fun of this. No need to go into what happens, its fairly obvious, but this obvious is fun to watch. Highly recommended.
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8/10
I'm pervert bait, more like bear bait...
Meganeguard1 January 2006
Suzuki Tomoko, along with ten plus classmates, has been sentenced to spend their summer vacation confined within their school and listen to her dull teacher Ozawa-sensei drone on and on about math equations that she, her classmates, and Ozawa-sensei himself could give a flip about. Therefore she envies the members of the school's brass band who gets to travel with the baseball team. However, on this particular hot summer day the band's bus leaves before the caterer arrives with the band's lunches. Because the caterer has another delivery, Tomoko, along with the other girls in the class decide to deliver the lunches. While on the train they eat one of the lunches and subsequently fall asleep missing their stop. After suffering such setbacks as jumping into rice paddies to avoid an oncoming train and having to wash their socks, the girls finally deliver the lunches to the brass band and their conductor. However, Nakamura Yuta, a boy Tomoko constantly bickers with, does not receive a lunch because his was consumed on the train ride. However, it seems an angel of mercy was looking over Nakamura when the other members of the brass band suffer a major bought of food poisoning.

Nakamura, being the only member of the brass band who is healthy, is given the task to put together another band for a major baseball game. However, only three girls show up to volunteer: two punk rock girls who play guitar and bass respectively and Sekiguchi Kaori, a sweet, nerdy girl who can play the recorder. However, knowing that Tomoko ate one of the lunches, he spotted a grain of cooked rice on her chin at the baseball game, Nakamura orders Tomoko and her summer school classmates to join the brass band. However, there number only totals sixteen, which is too small a number for a brass band. Yet, after a few events, Nakamura decides instead to start Big Swing Band.

Instead of playing music at first, Nakamura makes the girls exercise to build up their strength and lung capacity for a long performance. The girls eventually begin to enjoy playing their instruments, but right before the big game the brass bands members regain their strength and perform instead of the girls. However, seeds of love for music have been planted in the hearts of the saxophonist Tomoko, the trumpeter Saito Yoshie, the trombonist Sekiguchi, and the drummer Tanaka Naomi and while the other girls quit in order to hang out with some boys, this little group, with Nakamura in tow, sets forth to start their own jazz band.

Before actually watching this film, my only knowledge concerning it was that it was directed by the director of Waterboys, but having yet to watch that film this left me with little information for what to expect. However, I received the experience of watching a very enjoyable film that was without violence, unless you count snowball fights and Naomi's butt cracking the head of a wild boar when the girls go matsutake hunting, without angst, without hormonal frustration, etc. The young actresses have a wonderful chemistry and seem like actual friends instead of actresses. Also, the personalities of Tomoko, Nakamura, Yoshie, Sekiguchi, and Naomi are very well fleshed out and each one of them has their own personal quirks: Yoshie's falls for every cute boy she sees, the mild Sekiguchi excels at whatever she does but is ignored by those around her, and the deadpan Naomi has a wonderful dry sense of humor. Combine all of this with a truly outstanding performance at the end of the film, the girls later on went to perform in New York and Los Angeles, make for a very nice film watching experience.
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7/10
I like Swing Girls.
okomechan7 June 2005
Swing Girls (2004) was directed by Shinobu Yaguchi. Born in Kanagawa in 1967, Yaguchi other works include Adrenalin Live, A Secret Flower Garden and Water Boys. The latter has been his most successful movie to date, having been developed into a weekly television series. Water Boys shares many similarities with Swing Girls. First of all, the stage for each movie is high school and the main character in each is a boy (or girl) with no particular talent, skill or interests. He (she) discovers synchronized swimming (jazz music) and undergoes a transformation. Both movies are based on the theme of succeeding.

Set in present-day Japan, Swing Girls is the story of girls who meet and are deeply fascinated by jazz. The heroine is a very typical Japanese teenager. Her character is suggestive of the hidden problem of today children. She lacks any special interests or motivation and dislikes making any effort. But when she discovers jazz, she discovers something she can be absorbed in and begins to transform herself. At first, she is not able to even make a noise. But she and her friends practice and come to be able to play their instruments. They slowly come to be fond of jazz and take part in a music competition.

All the music was played by the actresses and actors themselves, which is perhaps the most outstanding aspect of Swing Girls. Their accents, on the other hand, sound to me like an imitation. But, as a whole, I like this movie.
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10/10
swing girls
karinv-8511523 July 2016
Warning: Spoilers
I've looking forward to seeing this movie because movie director of this movie is Yaguchi Shinobu, who made "water boys", a big hit movie in Japan. The stage of this movie is Yamagata. Yamagata is my hometown and characters in the movie speak in a country dialect, so I feel close to this movie. This movie focus on a blass band club in a highschool. Because of unexpected things, students who receive supplementary tuition are forced to become a member of a blass band club and to perticipate in tornament. At first, they are beginners of cource and totally dull. However, they practice hard and improve in a moment. On the stage of the tornament, they perfome grate jazz and audience are all standing ovation. I was very impressed by the movie and I want everyone to see this movie!
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9/10
Great, funny and touching Japanese comedy
mvescovi30 June 2011
Warning: Spoilers
A group of teenage girls in a summer math make up class accidentally cause the food poisoning of the entire brass band. They decide to take the member's places to play in the next ball game, but is's really an excuse to get out of math class. When the members quickly recover and they have to turn over the instruments back over, they discover that they have actually learned to love jazz music.

The misadventures the girls go through to earn money for their instruments are hilarious. They flood the supermarket they go to work for, and when they try collecting mushrooms in the forest they run into the biggest most vicious boar you have ever seen. Then they have a problem finding a place to practice because the're new and not very good yet. Eventually they have a chance to preform at an annual concert and the final fifteen minutes is jazz heaven. The girls really play their own instruments. The music is not dubbed.

This is a great, funny and very touching film with some well defined characters and fine acting.it's about teenagers who aren't really bad but just lazy who accidentally discover something they love and about their math teacher and his two secret loves - jazz music and the school's music teacher. A person of any age will enjoy this film.

Humor usually doesn't travel well from one country or culture to another but that is not the case here as all or almost all of the humor comes through, even the verbal humor. The subtitles are also quite good. This deserves a regular release in this country
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10/10
An enjoyable feel good movie.
Avelyn5 April 2005
I was somewhat pessimistic about how this movie might be, but I was pleasantly surprised. The cast had great chemistry and the overall story was really good. The director for this film also directed "Shall We Dance?" and "Waterboys". I happen to be a musician and thought that the way they produced this film was very professional and believable for the most part(sometimes the girls were actually playing, but when they aren't they do an excellent job of acting like they are). You don't have to be a musician to enjoy this film, this film had memorable characters, comedic moments, and was an overall good experience. I would say give it a try, you might be glad you did.
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10/10
"There's only two kinds of people in the world: those who swing, and those who don't"
pash7430 November 2009
Having being raised, musically speaking, with bread & jazz, I couldn't but adore this lovely movie...^_^; But then again, I don't think you'll need to be a jazz-addict in order to appreciate "Swing Girls": really...it's funny, sweet, well written, well directed, well acted...and you come out of it with a big smile on your face. What else could you ask for? ^_^ Oh, last but not least: if I got it right (unfortunately, the "making of" extras I've seen weren't subbed) the actresses, just like their characters, didn't know how to play before filming; they took intensive courses and learnt on the way, and it's really them who play in the movie (not some "musical stunts", so as to say). If you've liked movies like "The Full Monty" or "Calendar Girls" (yep, now that I come to think about it, this movie also has a bit of a brit-comedy flavour to it) be sure not to miss this one! Fully recommended! ^__-
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9/10
You'll fall in L-O-V-E with jazz again!
ny_tb1 July 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Movies come and go but there are some stay with you for the rest of your life. This is one such movie. To me personally, this movie made realize that sometimes we don't appreciate the music of yesterday. Jazz is the foundation of a lot of today's music. Most of the youth of today don't know nothing about jazz. It's really a shame. That's why I really enjoyed this movie. From the crazy beginning to the spectacular ending and everything else in between(like the crazy warthog!!! Instant classic!), this movie is a great for the entire family. Jazz fans will dig it just for the sheer brilliance and courage of these girls(and a boy!) to become a real band. I recommend also to watch the making of documentary. Besides the actual concert, you will see the efforts the band made. Why am i calling the actresses and the actor a band? BECAUSE THEY ARE! You'll see from start to finish they learn to become a band from setting up to finding out their instruments weren't working right sometimes to perform one of the best ending i ever seen in a movie, all the while honoring the great jazz legends of the past. Watch this movie and enjoy it the same way you enjoyed "The terminal".
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8/10
Life is beautiful
kevin14217 October 2005
Warning: Spoilers
A group of schoolgirls came into contact with jazz by chance. At once they were attracted by it. At first they met many difficulties. No instrument. No teacher. However they never lost the passion for jazz. They did what they can to earn money to buy the instrument. They did it.

The learning process was hard for them and funny for me to watch. With the help of their teacher, they improved quickly their level. Their performance in the music festival was the climax of the movie. The wonderful jazz still lingered around my ears after finished watching the movie.

Although its content was simple, director Shinobu Yaguchi brought us an interesting and pleasant film. It reminded me that life could be happy. The key is your attitude for life. The girls' show was contagious and impressive. Of cause the lively jazz was the most unforgettable.

An excellent Japanese movie. 8/10
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8/10
Surprisingly good and funny!
baharuka10 May 2014
I watched Swing Girls in parts. Part 1: I thought this movie can never turn out to be good. Part 2: I started laughing, funny scenes. Part 3: It got really interesting and I finished the movie delighted.

The movie flows very naturally. Highschool students are depicted as they are: They make stupid mistakes, they have fun, they play tricks, and that pulls you into the story. It's like watching a very fun documentary about their musical journey. A lot of types are there: The delinquent rock girls, the shy one, etc. and they fit their roles perfectly that you don't get a feeling they're in the movie just that their type was needed. There's also a great jazz session at some point.

If you think the movies you watched about high school contests were not realistic or funny enough, you should watch this! Watched it as an adult and loved it.
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9/10
Funny and enjoyable
mmushrm14 February 2011
Warning: Spoilers
The first time I watched Swing Girls was on a JAL flight across the Pacific not long after it came out in 2004. I have to admit the only reason I watched it was out of boredom. I never thought I would be laughing with this movie at 10,000m over the Pacific.

I must have really enjoyed it as I remembered the movie and when I saw a copy of the DVD the other day, I went and got it. Watching it moments ago, I remembered why this movie stayed with me.

This is a really enjoyable movie, the main characters are very likable. It is funny, the encounter with the wild boar was hilarious. I laughed 6years ago and I laughed again today. The music is good and is actually played by the actors. The music concert at the end was very good.

The story is formulaic of course - In a nutshell; Girls start a band and meet adversity along the way only to triumph at the end. But its the story telling thats good.

6 years later, Im glad I finally got a copy.
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9/10
The best of Yaguchi's comedies
Andy-2967 February 2007
When a high school brass band (for the school's baseball team), gets food poisoning, the only healthy member of the band (he wasn't able to eat the spoiled food that day) decides to call some indolent girls from the school (who inadvertently caused the food poisoning) to replace the band. Initially, of course, they are a disaster. But just when they start to get better, the original band returns. What's to do, then? What about forming a jazz-style band? Following the structure of his previous film, Water Boys (inept students finally prevail against all odds), Yaguchi made probably his best film so far. It's hilarious, full of great gags. All the actors are good, but the geeky girl named Sekiguchi steal the movie in my opinion.
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7/10
It won't win an academy award, but who cares?
rajio11 December 2006
"Swing Girls" is one of those films you sit down and watch after a stressful day at work. It is the story of a group of school girls who have obviously failed a subject and are forced to repeat it over their summer break. A fate worse than death...which is exactly what they think and after a series of unfortunate events, they get a chance to ditch the classes and fill in for the school brass band who have come down with a not so mysterious case of food poisoning. It's light hearted fun and if you can look past a bunch of 20 something young women playing 16 year old school girls, and not doing an all that a convincing job of it, you won't regret watching Swing Girls. No bad language, no sex, no violence, just a quirky teenage comedy.
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For love of music
harry_tk_yung1 September 2005
Warning: Spoilers
For love of music, that's all this movie is about, no more and certainly never less. As a result of a food poisoning accident, thirteen high school girls who know next to nothing about music are drafted to be trained to fill in for the school's brass orchestra. But when the regulars manage to recover sooner than expected, the backup girls fake a sigh of relieve but soon find that they have fallen in love with music.

While most soon get side-tracked, four of them love the music so much that they form the "Swing Girls". This comprises a sax player, the main character (next to the music, that is) and not surprisingly the prettiest one, a bespectacled timid trombone player, a girl who needs the sight of a rat to hit the high note on the trumpet (the obvious clown of the lot) and the slightly overweighed drummer. Added to them are two wild-looking electric guitar players who would want to be anywhere where music is played, and a guy on the keyboard.

It takes the group a while to find their rhythm with jazz, until the melody of "Coming through the rye" from a traffic light gives them the magical inspiration they need. The rest of the girls now come back to join them.

There are anecdotes and other characters aplenty along the way, some funny, some banal, but the movie never wavers from the theme, which is the group's love of music. The ending is appropriately uplifting, when the band finally gets a chance to do its thing in a national high school competition. Winning is not even important, only finding of an appreciative audience.

All the characters in the movie are well likable and there is ever-popular Naoto Takenaka. As the end credit rolls, we see the names of the cast the way they would appear in a programme of an orchestral concert, grouped under the sections of instruments they play. The girls (and one guy) actually performed themselves and the success of the intensive training they received before the shooting of the movie is quite evident.

Altogether a sweet little film that will be loved by all who love music.
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8/10
One of My Favorite Films
yokorunrun7 June 2005
The characters of Swing Girls are low motivated female high school students taking summer classes. They decide to start playing musical instruments and aim at taking part in a high school band competition. Their performance at the end of the movie is cheered wildly by the audience of actors and by us, the film viewers.

The director of this film is Fumihareu Yaguchi, known most widely for his work on Water Boys, a film about a male high school synchronized swimming team. There are some points in common between these films: the characters are under-motivated teenagers; friendship plays an important role; and the characters learn to achieve a difficult goal.

There are two good points and one weak point to Swing Girls. Overall the casting was excellent. The actresses succeed in portraying youth, seriousness, and pleasure and you can feel the strong tie of friendship between them. The music played in this film is traditional and familiar to many, such as Sing Sing Sing, which we often hear on TV in Japan. But one thing that seems to have been omitted are the scenes of the hard practice to the road to progress. The girls improve too suddenly.
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10/10
I like this movie
vivichan467 June 2005
Set in a country high school, Swing Girls is the story of a group of female students absorbed in playing and learning the pleasure of music. Tomoko is a typical high school student who along with her classmates one summer day delivers lunch to members of the brass band playing at a baseball tournament. But because the food has been out in the summer heat, the band members get food poisoning and Tomoko and her friends have to substitute for bed-ridden brass band. The girls start practicing instruments and at first aren't very serious about it but they gradually come to enjoy themselves and their lives are changed. In this process, they get together and learn friendship and love and the audience has the chance to watch them grow.

This director is of the film is Fumiharu Yaguchi, who most famous work is the popular Water Boys, a film about male high school students who start a synchronized swimming team. So, Swing Girls and Water Boys are alike in that ordinary students succeed in the end. The cast of Swing Girls consists of 16 girls and 1 boy lead ably by Juri Ueno in the role of Tomoko. One of Japan more popular actors, Naoto Takenaka, does another fine job playing the part of the powerless teacher.

One of the best things about Swing Girls is that the cast really play their own instruments. Most had no experience playing, so they practiced very hard for three months. These authentic performances help convey the pleasure of simply played music. It seems the instruments used in the film sold at very high prices after this movie was released.

On the negative side, there are some scenes that seem impossible. For example, some students suddenly are able to play their instrument very well without any practice. In the scene in which the students are chased by a wild boar, no one is ever caught or injured. If these scenes were made more realistic, I think this movie could be any even more wonderful work.
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10/10
The Best Film In The World
haider99917 August 2005
This is my first IMDb review but i had to do it this time for this film! this film is great packed with loads of comedy humour its suited for any audience! The actors seem to gel well and the story lines actually seem lifelike rather than fake and rubbish. I loved this movie the first time i watched it and since i lived in the UK i had to look very hard to find it!! I'm still searching for a DVD copy as they have released three copies packed with extras! a good investment trust me! if you want to know more email me or if you want to simply chat about it email me as well. id love to chat to anyone about this film!

cheers
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10/10
It's almost impossible to dislike this film
ebossert3 March 2016
A group of flunkee schoolgirls take up jazz in this hilarious movie by Shinobu Yaguchi. If you're unfamiliar with Yaguchi, he's a very reliable director and I would place him on a pedestal as one of the best – if not the best – contemporary directors of comedy films. One reason I feel this way is that he usually chooses a different topic for each film and explores the topic to point of being informative for the viewer. For example, his film Wood Job (2014) focused on forestry, his film Robo-G (2012) focused on robotics, and his film Happy Flight (2008) focused on air traffic control. So the viewer usually leaves his film with a slightly greater knowledge of the topic at hand. Swing Girls focuses on how teenagers learn to play instruments – a topic that is certainly more familiar to the typical moviegoer than something like forestry, but the informational value of the film is still there.

The second reason I love Yaguchi as a director is that his humor is more of the everyday variety, which is very funny and very charming. Unlike some other directors of comedy, Yaguchi's films never even come close to being annoying or grating on the nerves – which is a huge positive, in my opinion. There are no gross-out jokes or juvenile dialogue to sit thru. I mean, there's nothing worse than being irritated by a comedy, and you have nothing to worry about here.

Lots of hijinks occur in Swing Girls, which include disastrous lunch trips, money-making schemes to buy new instruments, and musical debacles. The set-up of how these girls become involved with music is very entertaining. The laughs just keep coming while incorporated within a distinctive cinematic approach that avoids over-the-top silliness in favor of quaint, well-timed events. One of the more memorable comedic set pieces occurs mid-way thru (in a forest) and is very creative in its style of camera-work. The pacing is fast, the characters are lovable, and the finale has some very catchy tunes. Yes, you have some legitimately good music to look forward to here. The opening half focuses on a few songs that the protagonists consistently fail to learn properly, but once they progress in their skill set we are treated to some great stuff during the finale.

The lead actress here is Juri Ueno, who is very popular in Japan because of her screen presence and charisma. Most of her films have not made the jump to American shores, but Swing Girls is an excellent introduction to this actress. One of the teachers is played by Naoto Takenaka, who is one of those Japanese actors who is seemingly in every film (not unlike Ren Osugi) – IMDb credits Takenaka for 225 acting roles. He's great in this one, and it could be my favorite performance I've seen from him.

Swing Girls is great fun and comes highly recommended.
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5/10
not bad but might cheer you up
sumitaki7 June 2005
Set in a remote country high school in the region of Tohoku, SWING GIRLS is the story about the struggle of a group of girls with a passion for jazz that brings laughter and tears. The girls begin practicing music on the pretext of skipping summer make-up lessons. At first, they are not enthusiastic but as they learn little by little to make sounds they become gradually fascinated by jazz. They make up their minds to form a big band by themselves, but they have no instruments, money or places to practice. They then get part-time jobs to finance their band, but nearly all result in failure and they face a crisis of a breakup of band. But with their passion for jazz and their cheerfulness, they manage to stay to together and to take part in a music festival, at which they give a rousing performance in the film last scene. Besides mastering their instruments, the girls also grow mentally and learn to carry out a project to its end.

The director of this movie is Shinobu Yaguchi, director of the hit film WATER BOYS. He seems to like to make this kind of story. The basic theme of both movies is the same: poorly motivated students learn to succeed. As WATER BOYS was the first of its kind, the image of WATER BOYS is apt to go ahead of SWING GIRLS. Even if characters turn from boys to girls and the subject turns from sport to music, SWING GIRLS may be regarded as only imitation of WATER BOYS. However, the praiseworthy thing in Yaguchi movies is that actors and actresses themselves actually perform on screen. In SWING GIRLS, the actresses underwent very hard training for to master their instruments in order to create a powerful and appealing performance.

While I enjoyed this movie very much, there are some unsatisfactory points. The development of story is too forced and too convenient. The process of mastering instruments is especially too sudden. It is hardly possible to acquire such great skills with such halfhearted and short practice. Mastering instruments is never easy and is accompanied by hardships and frustrations. I wanted to see this process and how joyful they are when they learn to play their instruments. It is disappointing that their efforts are not described.

But in the face of the actresses' incredible cheerfulness and energy, arguments about the quality of the story are meaningless. There are many attractions in this movie. Due to their provincial accents and natural ease at portraying students, the actresses make the characters feel familiar and it is easy for us to empathize with them. The rural scenery, such as the railroad running through rice paddies and wide spaces completely covered with snow, creates a rich atmosphere. This movie is a very good entertainment and can serve to encourage us. I like to watch this movie again when I want to be cheered up.
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