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  People Just Do Nothing: Big in Japan Living For The Music
Year: 2021
Director: Jack Clough
Stars: Allan Mustafa, Hugo Chegwin, Steve Stamp, Asim Chaudhry, Lily Brazier, Daniel Sylvester Woolford, Ken Yamamura, Hitomi Sono, Ayumi Ito, Nero Huang, George Keywood, Qyoko Kudo, Kazuhiro Murayama, Sadao Ureda, Ruth Bratt, Megan Heffernan, Shun Ishida
Genre: ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Kurupt FM is dead - long live Kurupt FM! What was London's biggest, and indeed only, pirate radio station in the Brentford area drew to a close a couple of years ago, and its DJs and owners were forced to get proper jobs to get by (well, some of them were). But they remember the glory days of making and playing music back when the station was still running with great nostalgia, and would love to get another try at it, so when their manager Chabuddy G (Asim Chaudhry) tracks them all down and rounds them all up, it has to be for a special reason. And special it is: their best track is now a major hit! But only in Japan...

There's a rule about movies adapted from British television sitcoms, and that is that their plot must involve them going on holiday. That holds true for anything from some of the best, such as The Likely Lads adaptation, to many of the worst (naming no names, they've been through enough), but as late as The Inbetweeners Movie and Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie, original casts were being assembled for revivals of their small screen successes. The difference with the later examples was the budgets included enough funds for location filming in the actual foreign climes, rather than recreating them on often tatty sets back in Blighty.

The adaptation of People Just Do Nothing continued that venerable trend, as it had started life online, then talent spotters at the BBC had picked up the comedy troupe and given them their own show on national television, or at least BBC Three which was the lower budget equivalent the corporation used to try out new and up and coming talent with. That sitcom had not picked up the audience of, say Mrs Brown's Boys (also turned into a movie), but it had amassed a cult following thanks to what, at first glance, appeared boorish and laddish until you realised the team were actually presenting some very well-observed comedy characters indeed.

These were carried over to their film, arriving three years after the series had ended, and for some may have been the first time they had heard of this lot. Was it, then, suitable for newcomers? The answer may be that while you needed an interest in the music scene they were sending up to get the full effect, overall these actors had been honing their performances for so long that they seemed familiar types even if you did not recognise them as actors. Simply put: it was a music spoof in the tradition of anything from This is Spinal Tap to Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, and in its brighter moments could hold up its head with the best of them, offering some genuinely big laughs from Kurupt FM's buffoonery as they travelled to Japan to cash in. What could have been a sneery, withering putdown of a whole culture thankfully did not go that route, acknowledging that we would find them funnier if we liked these head in the clouds eejits.

Therefore there was a lot of affection on display for the characters they were playing no matter how idiotic they became, the fish out of water quality of the Japanese plot garnering them a new lease of life, since they are not the stereotype Englishmen abroad with nothing but getting drunk and getting laid on their minds, they really are thankful for the opportunity to finally make some profit out of their life's passion for music (though they believe the golden era for that was 2001-05!). This has them trying to be respectful to their foreign hosts even as they begin to suspect they are being exploited: "leader" Grindah (Allan Mustafa) is singled out by the media moguls as their focus, while the others are disposable, and there's a sincerity to the way this is a shame for the team that was disarming. That goes for the budding romance between resident dimwit Steves (Steve Stamp) and their interpreter (Hitomi Sono), a surprisingly sweet subplot. Maybe converts would still be in the cult numbers, but this was a lot better than you might expect, and easy to warm to.

[People Just Do Nothing: Big in Japan available now on Digital and on Blu-ray and DVD Monday 22nd November 2021.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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