Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|The Ramen Girl|
Actors: Brittany Murphy, Toshiyuki Nishida, Tammy Blanchard, Kosei Asami, Gabriel Mann
Director: Robert Allan Ackerman
Genres: Comedy, Drama
An American slacker (Brittany Murphy, 8 Mile; Girl, Interrupted) abandoned by her boyfriend in Tokyo finds her calling in an unlikely place: a local ramen house run by a tyrannical chef who doesn't speak of a word of Engli... more »
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Member Movie Reviews
Tonya H. from POULSBO, WA
Reviewed on 8/31/2009...
This is a fun and entertaining movie that my whole family enjoyed.
0 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.
Reviewed on 8/8/2009...
What a pleasant surprise! This is an enjoyable story of a young woman (Murphy) who is dumped by her boyfriend in Japan, but refuses to leave until she can master the art of making ramen soup. The dynamic between the grumpy, abusive Japanese Ramen chef (Nashida) and his ditzy American "student" is extremely entertaining, and I absolutely loved the ending. Reminded me of "The Karate Kid" and "Lost in Translation" combined.
3 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.
The ramen Girl
Go fish | 05/28/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"COMING OF AGE IN TOKYO five stars
Having grown up in Japan and America, I really felt this movie captured the cultural differences between the two countries with humor, intelligence and charm while still making its points pro and con for both. I don't agree with the comparison to LOST IN TRANSLATION at all. That movie was about alienation. The main characters could have met on the moon. There was almost nothing in that film that reflected the Japanese culture. I don't think it was trying to. In fact several Japanese friends and myself found it rather offensive to Japanese people. The Ramen Girl more specifically portrays being a foreigner alone in Japan. There are many fully developed Japanese characters and situations. The central plot could only ever happen in Japan. This is more of a coming of age movie. What is lovely about it is that it suggests that it's possible to actually find oneself and grow outside of one's home culture and then to bring what has been learned back home and lead a richer life. Abby, the central character, is sort of a lost soul. Finding herself abandoned in Japan, she is literally and charmingly, through several magical events, drawn into the culture of cooking ramen. Her scenes with her teacher are often hilarious as he doesn't speak a word of English and she doesn't speak a word of Japanese. What transpires would appear to be typical but it's not. Nothing plays out just as one would expect it to. Her efforts are actually quite inspirational, although not always triumphant. All of the performances are first rate. Brittany Murphy has never been better and all of the Japanese cast are excellent. This movie was very well received in Japan. Journalists and movie goers were really surprised that it was written and directed by Americans. They clearly understood the culture they were making their film about. I think it's great that this movie is finally available to an American audience on DVD. It's really kind of irresistible. It's also great to see a movie now that has such a positive point of view and leaves you feeling so good."
Lost in Tampopo
Judith Johnson | Albany, NY | 05/30/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie owes its inspiration to Tampopo, the critically acclaimed, gently quirky Japanese film about a female mastering the masculine art of ramen noodle soup making. Brittany Murphy is really quite good as a rudderless 20-something American abandoned in Toyko by her boyfriend. She happens upon a ramen shop and is inspired to master the art of making the perfect Ramen soup. There is a lot of attention to detail in set design and costume, although Ms. Murphy's shoes are probably not what kitchen help would really wear to put in a 12-hour day.
The Ramen Girl has some subtitles due to its authentic Japanese cast which lend the feel of an art house flick. Another nice touch is a soup making competition in which actor Tsutomu Yamazaki, who was the truck driving mentor in Tampopo, turns in a comic turn as the judge of the soup making competition. I believe this movie has enough charm to appeal to a wide range of viewers and if you really like it, hey, check out Tampopo as well."
Sporadically Engaging Fish-Out-Of-Water Story That Needs a B
Tsuyoshi | Kyoto, Japan | 09/19/2009
(2 out of 5 stars)
"My experience tells me that it is not a good sign if a film with a big-name star receives only a limited theatrical release before disappearing without a trace. The star I am talking about is NOT Brittany Murphy - though she is top-billed in "The Ramen Girl" - it is Japanese actor Toshiyuki Nishida. The respected veteran is famous for his hugely successful movie franchise "Tsuribaka Nisshi," but perhaps some might remember him as the "Pigsy" of Japanese TV series "Monkey." Despite his name, the film never received wide theatrical release in Japan. This is quite unusual - imagine a Tom Hanks movie released only in LA and you know what I mean - and the reason is simple. "The Ramen Girl" is not very good.
Brittany Murphy is Abby, who has followed her boyfriend Ethan (Gabriel Mann) from America. Ethan leaves her, however, and shocked Abby is attracted to the bright light nearby her apartment room. It is a small ramen shop run by a headstrong master Maezumi (Nishida), and Abby, looking for a new way of life, decides to work at the shop to learn the art of cooking. Naturally Maezumi refuses, but persistent Abby wouldn't leave and the shop master reluctantly agrees.
Certainly the storyline is forced, but not without potential. I don't think stubborn master like Maezumi, who has been doing his job for more than forty years, would take Abby (or anyone else, American or not) as a pupil so easily, but Nishida is a talented actor, very good at comedy, so the film still had a chance.
Alas, the director never allows him to do what he can do. Not surprisingly, grumpy Maezumi yells at Brittany Murphy's Abby, who is not a fast learner, but the film is no fun to watch as it lacks humor and pathos that this kind of story needs. This is not the wall-painting training of wise Miyagi-san in "The Karate Kid" which has a meaning in it. Maezumi's pointless "training" (like Abby scrubbing a toilet bowl) doesn't convince us.
Abby's character is also a problem. The idea of a broken-hearted American woman who wants to learn ramen cooking is not very credible. Moreover, the film never gives her a real trial. It takes a lot of effort and tenacity to acquire skills of ramen cooking (or any kind of cooking for that matter), but the dialogue-ridden film never gives her a chance to show her cooking prowess. What she has to learn is explained away simply with a word "tamashii" or soul. And a teardrop, too.
"The Ramen Girl" is helmed by Brooklyn-born Emmy-winning director Robert Allan Ackerman, who has also directed plays in Tokyo many times. The film's screenplay is written by Becca Topol, who, according to the film's home page, spent one year in Japan while studying in college. As to the production design of the ramen shop and the owner's house, it is perfect. You can find such small ramen shops around the corner anywhere in Japan.
However, the film, it seems, misses every opportunity to use their knowledge about the country and its culture. Cooking ramen plays a significant role as metaphor in the film, but in "The Ramen Girl" somehow you don't see the details of ramen cooking they should know. How did Abby learn the skills? How did the master teach her?
There is nice supporting acting from Kimiko Yo as Maezumi's wife, and Tsutomu Yamazaki as the grand ramen master (both actors seen in "Departures"), but the lagging pace of the film doesn't change. Subplots about the characters played by Tammy Blanchard and Sohee Park are so weak and forgettable.
The film needs a more capable director and writer, who can create a cinematically dynamic narrative development, or more credible story and characters. This is s huge disappointment for me. "The Ramen Girl" could have been a much more engaging drama with someone else as director. Toshiyuki Nishida, one of the best actors in Japan, deserves a better film than this.
By the way, there is really a "Ramen Museum" in Yokohama."