Movies about losers ahem, underachievers comprise a delicious yet underrated genre. In films like Big Deal on Madonna Street, The Big Lebowski, Five Easy Pieces, and Knocked Up, adept filmmakers mine humor and pathos from inertia and failure. The latest winning addition to the list is Fine, Totally Fine, Yosuke Fujita's Tokyo-set comedy about turning 30 with nothing to show for it. Part-time groundskeeper Teruo (ace comic actor Yoshiyoshi Arakawa) continually talks about constructing the best haunted house ever (and does zip about it, naturally); Hisanobu (Okada Yoshinori) is a well-liked but hopelessly passive hospital admin. These going-nowhere buddies need someone to set a fire under them. Instead they cross paths with Akari (Kimura Yoshino), a cute, bumbling painter with an astonishing ability to transform routine movements into havoc. Director Fujita, who worked as a hospital janitor for eight years before making his feature debut with Fine, Totally Fine, displays extraordinary empathy and appreciation for those who defer and delay their dreams. His endearing characters stumble through one quietly absurd situation after another, drawing laughs and reminding us that an ordinary life can be a beautiful thing.
Nov. 27-Dec. 3, 2009