Chef Takuro Oki (Tsukaji Muga) owns a diner that is popular in the neighbourhood because of the good food. However, he has no luck with women because he is ugly in his appearance. He falls in love with Hiroko (Kitagawa Keiko), a part-time helper in his diner but she rejects him. Heart-broken, Takuro goes shopping and is introduced to the ‘Handsome Suit’, a magical suit that transforms its wearer to become incredibly good-looking and suave. Can the new Takuro win the heart of Hiroko now with the help of this magical suit?
Pardon us for sounding mean spirited, but ugly people really don’t have it good in this day and age. We hate to generalize, but look around you: Who are the ones who are favoured by the bosses? Who are the ones who are popular with the most friends? Who are the ones who go around parading their other halves like a prized trophy? Sad to say, but ugly people aren’t exactly the bosses’ pets, nor are they particularly admired, and let’s not even go to the part whether ugly people are hitched. Face it, people – the truth is that sad.
Which is why, although this 104 minute Japanese comedy left us in stitches, we weren’t too sure how it’s supposed to make us unattractive people feel any better. You see, our hero here is a fat restaurant owner who isn’t exactly a lady’s man. Sure, he has a girl of his dreams (don’t they all?) and is heartbroken when she rejects his courtship. Call it a miracle if you want – this unappealing hero chances upon a magical suit which transforms its wearer into a handsome dude. Yes, it’s the Handsome Suit to the rescue!
First things first, our heart goes all out to Muga Tsukaji, who plays the fat man who needs the Handsome Suit. He may have adorable red cheeks, and is cutely chubby, but seriously, would you date him if you were a girl? Furthermore, he makes certain unpleasant actions (you have to watch it to experience how obnoxious they are) when he is awkward or uncomfortable. Yes, we understand that this is all for the comedic effect to make viewers howl in laughter (to be fair, we had a wild time laughing our hearts out), but all this lightweight slapstick and frivolity do not really tell us things we do not already know about that ugly duckling turning into a beautiful swan fairy tale? The average viewer will be so caught up with the hysterics and the barrels of chuckles to notice that there is nothing refreshing or insightful about this tale.
Having said that, this Tsutomu Hanahbusa directed movie is one entertaining ride from beginning to finish. If you were more idealistic, you would even find the whole setup hopeful. Engaging performances come from Tsukaji (but of course), and his alter ego played by the suave (but somewhat sneakily handsome) Shosuke Tanihara. Together, this duo has a natural chemistry which lights up the screen with amusingly enjoyable antics. The ladies aren’t that bad either - without saying too much, let’s just say there is an agreeable plot twist to this colourful tale, and while you go to sleep smiling, we can assure you (being the cynics that we are) – ugly people still won’t have it good at the end of the day.
SPECIAL FEATURES :
This Code 3 DVD contains a 10 minute Ugly Man vs. Handsome Man Interview where Tanihara talks about how he visits the set even if he is not scheduled for shoot, so that he can observe Tsukaji’s mannerisms. The four minute What Is Handsome Interview has the cast talking about their definitions of “handsome” – it is heartening to hear that a good heart still matters. The disc is rounded up with the movie’s Trailer.
There is nothing to complain about the disc’s visual transfer, and the movie is presented in its original Japanese soundtrack.
by John Li
Posted on 23 June 2009