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  Publicity Stills of "Gigolo Wannabe"
Courtesy of Encore Films

Genre: Comedy/Drama
Director: Ryo Nishimura
Starring: Shun Oguri, Toshinobu Matsuo, Takamasa Suga, Yusuke Kirishima, Hiroyuki Hirayama, Ryoji Morimoto, Shingo Katsurayama, Hitomi Manaka, Riko Narumi, Yoshio Harada.
RunTime: 1 hr 47 mins
Released By: Cathay-Keris Films & Encore Films
Rating: PG
Official Website: http://www.waters-movie.jp/

Opening Day: 14 September 2006


Seven young men who are desperate for quick money arrive at a desolate seaside bar, called Dog Days, to audition as "hosts." This is the highly popular occupation of entertaining female patrons with smooth talk and a soothing smile while offering them drinks at "host clubs." Although their previous jobs varied from street performer to ex-banker, they are all happy to get this dream job so easily, until they discover that the 'manager' has run off with their deposits! Upon seeing them so discouraged, the sympathetic bar owner offers his place for them to open up a host club by themselves. With the help of his granddaughter, Chika (who has a heart disorder), and despite the combination of their initial confusion, personal problems and a typhoon that almost blew the place down, they gradually find the true meaning of friendship, trust and love.

Movie Review:

I think I have been writing some venomous reviews lately, but this movie needs a good grilling. It is as presumptuous as it is incoherent. The writers tried to elevate some feel-good material about scrawny guys down on their luck working as male hosts – another of those distinctly Japanese cultural exports (we call them gigolos here) – by embellishing on their motives and trying to explore themes of friendship and corporate alienation within a dreary 107 minutes. They might have assumed that by using the magical storyline of seven good men down on their luck they will be able to reach the artistic heights of a certain Akira Kurosawa.

The seven misfits in this sad little story consists of a street performer, a banker, two semi-pro basketball players, a chef and some other cranky occupations not worth remembering. These characters were acted out by wannabe-actors with bit parts in GTO, Ju-on 2 and other assorted B-grade movies and TV series on their collective resumes. The direction by first-time director Ryo Nishimura is uneven and the script contains lines so contrived that it sends shivers down my spine just reading the subtitles. I had to grab the armrests of my seat to curb my shaking at the earnest delivery of these lines by a bunch of under-nourished Gatsby-smothered young punks.

I believe the writers got confused whether to create a feel-good laugh-out-loud comedy of physical gaffes or a pedagogical fable extolling the lofty aspirations of male hosts. The premise of the story would easily allow for the former but you need someone with greater sincerity to attempt the latter. There were indeed parts of the movie that leveraged on the imagery of seven emaciated goons preening and prancing about, but these moments were few and far between. Instead, in typical Japanese idealist-perfectionist fashion, we were treated to grand theories such as male hosts are around “to create a stage for the lady customer, who is like a star actress”. At times, the script is as redundant as asking seven skinny men to entertain five high-rolling glamorous career women I pity the film editors.

There is also an out-of-this-world twist at the end of the movie to make it the Usual Suspects. Be warned. Oh, did I mention that the plot is also highly illogical?

(I gave the sparse and under-directed art film-wannabe Tony Takitani two stars. How can I give this sparse, totally superfluous and pompous film-wannabe a similar or better rating?)

Movie Rating:

(I gave the sparse and under-directed art film-wannabe Tony Takitani two stars. How can I give this sparse, totally superfluous and pompous film-wannabe a similar or better rating?)

Review by Lim Mun Pong


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