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Genre: Comedy/Sports
Starring: Mirai Moriyama, Rosa Kato, Yoshiko Tanaka, Kei Tani, Kenji Sakaguchi (Special Guest Appearances by: Takashi Tsukamoto, Hiro Tamaki, Naoko Iijima, Sachie Hara, Koichi Sato, Susumu Terajima)
Director: Takanori Jinnai
Rating: PG
Year Made: 2008






Languages: Japanese
Subtitles: English/Chinese
Aspect Ratio: 4:3 Letterbox
Sound: Dolby Digital 2.0
Running Time: 2 hrs 5 mins
Region Code: PAL 3
Distributor: InnoF
orm Media




Shuhei has hopes of marrying his longtime girlfriend Shizuka. However Shizuka's father will only approve of the marriage if Shuhei coaches a junior ice hocky team, Smilers to their next victory. However, Smilers is made up of a handful of self-proclaimed "losers". "misfits" and "rejects" from other teams and has never won a single game. Using atypical methods, Shuhei manages to get his scrappy team of discouraged misfits into some semblance of talent and teamwork but will it be enough to beat the corporate-sponsored reigning champion, not to mention his stubborn father-in-law?


"Smilers" on the surface seems like a rehash of the 1992 Walt Disney picture, The Mighty Ducks. While TMD has a lawyer who is sentenced to community service coaching a hockey team, "Smilers" has a former tap dancer being coerced into coaching a losing junior ice hockey team into championship.

Mirai Moriyama plays Shuhei, the said former tap dancer who travels all the way from Tokyo to Hokkaido to propose to his girlfriend, Shizuka. But there’s one hurdle he has to overcome: his future father-in-law. And he will only agree if Shuhei is able to bring back the championship for the local ice hockey team.

The various characters in the movie for the most part are wacky and clownish especially the bunch of talented young cast. There’s the resident fatso, a bespectacled geek, an ex-teammate from the opposition team, a foreigner and the brooding lanky boy who has a sad history of his own. The soul of the movie happens to be Moriyama. His goofy looks and antics are simply perfect for the role.

And wouldn’t a greenhorn like Shuhei coaching a bunch of misfits make things worse? Well, it seems like the movie contains an underlying message that miracles do happen if you believe in it. It’s a caricature of life seen through the eyes of these ordinary folks but presented in a light, motivating manner.

With a runtime of 125 minutes, the movie does get overwhelmed by a sappy subplot involving a puppy love affair. But the exhilarating shot hockey matches and the non-stop laugh-inducing humour and gags greatly made up for it. Sample a match-making scene in the icy-cold outdoors and the opposition team marching to the tune of 'Imperial March'.

Set and shot on location in wintery Sapporo, "Smilers" is a journey of both tears and laughs for the audience. You got to trust the Japanese’s capability in turning something stale and stamp it with their trademarks. Just go ahead and cheer for this bunch of underdogs!


This Code 3 DVD contains no bonus features.


The 4:3 Letterbox presentation is good enough in general and the Dolby Digital 2.0 gets to do its job only during the games sequences.



Review by Linus Tee



.Smilers (Movie Review)

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This review is made possible with the kind support from InnoForm Media


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