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?
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.
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
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,
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'.
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!
Code 3 DVD contains no bonus features.
4:3 Letterbox presentation is good enough in general and the
Dolby Digital 2.0 gets to do its job only during the games
Review by Linus Tee