The best horror-comedy-musical you will ever see! One of my favs for awhile now, had to re-watch for shits and grins. Watch to believe as horror besets this family in an idyllic countryside. Will have to look up more of Takashi Miike's works. Apparently this movie was based on a Korean one called The Quiet Family.
Zack Davisson | Seattle, WA, USA | 04/26/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie had me absolutely cracking up. It is an absolutely oddball flick, full of non-sequitor plot points and bizarre musical moments. This was the first (and so far only) Takashi Miike film that I have seen, and it sure makes me want to see more. There is a distinct vision and a high level of creativity on display here."The Happiness of the Katakuris" is not a film for anyone with expectations of what a film should be like. It is a remake of the Korean film "Choyonghan kajok," and tells the story of a family who opens a bad-luck inn, where all the guests keep [expiring] through suicide of accident. A black comedy, it might be said to be in the tradition of "Arsenic and Old Lace." Stylistically, the film follows no conventions, and slips into claymation at whim, musical at whim, and straight drama at whim. The cast is all delightful, and you find yourself rooting for each and everyone of them.If you are in the mood for something strange and funny, you can't go wrong with "The Happiness of the Katakuris.""
A completely unique movie experience
Brent Figiel | Pittsburgh, PA | 02/23/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There's an interview on the DVD for the Takashi Miike film "Audition" where he says that he has the benefit of not having to work under the microscope. Apparently no one really cares about cinema in Japan so he's free to do as he pleases and make whatever movies he likes without fear. It shows. There's a freedom in the way he directs. Each of his movies feels like it's a form of organized chaos and are shot with a complete abandon of conventions. "Audition" went far beyond any horror movie I've ever seen in terms of not only well-placed gore but psychological horror. "City Of Lost Souls" took the concept of the adrenaline-fueled action movie to it's nihilistic, stylish limits. "Happiness Of The Kataruris," on the other hand, is a feel good black comedy... if that makes any sense. A heart-warming story about a family that sticks together despite themselves, always trying to do their best... despite bad luck, dead bodies, con men, homicidal maniacs, and forces of nature.It's completely absurdist. It's got slapstick comedy, gross out humor, black comedy, and horror along with uplifting song and dance routines. (There's even a karaoke number!) The special effects are done (probably for budgetary reasons) in claymation. Amazingly, Miike juggles all of the balls fairly seamlessly. Despite the numerous deaths over the course of the movie, I don't think it's possible to finish the movie and not feel good about yourself. The ironic hipster types will feel like it's a musical for people who hate musicals and everyone else will probably just dig it because it's so freakin' funny.The musical numbers were intentionally performed with very little time for the actors to prepare, which makes it all the more believable. The first musical scene between the naive, love-starved daughter and the "secret agent" con man had me laughing so hard my sides hurt. The cast is so self-conscious about the dancing that it makes the scenes even funnier. There's so much going on that you're going to have to watch it several times to get it all, but that will hardly feel like a chore. The cast is very likable (you can't help but root for any family with luck this horrible) and the film carries a strong message about loyalty and the benefits of hard work.If you like Troma movies like "Cannibal: The Musical," this film is right up your alley. Between an awesome movie and a number of great extras on the DVD, there's no reason for any fan of left-of-center cinema to pass it by. I dare you not to feel good about yourself when you finish it."
Another brilliant piece of work by Miike.
Robert P. Beveridge | Cleveland, OH | 09/24/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Happiness of the Katakuris (Takashi Miike, 2001)
To be short, The Happiness of the Katakuris is, quite simply, the most delightfully twisted movie I've seen in quite a while. Based on the hit Korean film The Quiet Family (described by some as "the Korean Addams Family"), The Happiness of the Katakuris comes off, more than anything, as The Sound of Music seen through the eyes of a psychopath who's just smoked rat poison-laced crank after dropping two hits of acid that were originally bought at a Grateful Dead concert in 1982, but were genetically altered by a mad scientist attempting to find a way to turn people into claymation zombies who would stop at nothing to do his bidding.
Yeah, it's that good.
Masao Katakuri (Pistol Opera's Kenji Sawada), sick of his life as a department store shoe salesman, buys an out-of-the-way guest house after being promised by the real estate agent that a major road is being built that will run right by the house. He enlists the help of his whole family in the running of the enterprise. They consist of his wife, Terue (The Ripples' Keiko Mastsuzaka, who looks absolutely stunning for having recently turned fifty); his grandfather, Jinpei (Tetsuro Tanba, whose fifty-year career is rapidly approaching Christopher Lee's in its prolificity); son Masayuki, recently released from prison after being convicted of pickpocketing (Pulse's Shinji Takeda); and daughter Shizue, whose husband left her soon after the birth of their child (Godzilla 2000's Naomi Nishida). No one's altogether happy about this.
Their first guest finally arrives. He checks in for the sole purpose of committing suicide. That's when things really start to get weird. (You'll understand when you see it. And you WILL see it.) Fearing that a death on the premises will cause unduly bad publicity, the family decides to bury him on the grounds. All well and good, except that all their guests start dying. And when Masao gets the news that the real estate agent wasn't lying, and the road crew are coming through...
This is what musicals could have been. Utterly insane, for one thing. (It's obvious from the way the movie is filmed these musical numbers are happening in peoples' heads, which helps to combat the total-lack-of-realism factor.) Well-plotted, for another. No chorus pops up, and the leads weren't (for the most part) necessarily chosen based on their voices, so a shrieking, off-key chorus isn't needed to lend the idea that not everyone in this world is capable of singing like an angel. The dancing is refreshingly naïve; Naomi Nishida says in the DVD extras that that's how Miike wanted it, which upped the movie a couple of notches in my estimation.
But the main thing that puts The Happiness of the Katakuris head and shoulder above most other musicals, both of the Hollywood and the Indie varieties, is that by the end of the movie, you don't just care about the situations, you care about the characters. These are, for all intents and purposes, real people, unlike those in most musicals. Yes, Miike could have spent a bit more time on character development (especially with Masayuki), but what's here is so far above and beyond the usual that it's easily overlooked. Masayuki still tugs at the heartstrings anyway.
Well, okay, so the end is kind of predictable. But so what? When everyone gets together and sings that last number, you wonder why Robert Wise didn't come up with the brilliant idea to cast the Von Trapp family in claymation while they're being hunted for in the catacombs.
A must-see film. **** ½ "
BIZZARE AND HILARIOUS
Shashank Tripathi | Gadabout | 07/15/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A Japanese family starts a guest-house on the top of a hill but it seems to be jinxed -- all the guests who visit them have an unfortunate habit of dying. Dead bodies not being the best thing for business, the family has to come up with a creative way to hide the corposes. They choose to do this while singing along the mountains. The predicament is funny itself. But the story telling is uniquely impressive as it effortlessly switches between melancholy romance, adventure, horror, mystery, singing, dancing, flying, some interesting claymation with weird creatures, crooks impersonating members of the british royal family, and even a volcano. It's like watching several different threads of the movie simultaneously, but somehow Miike holds it all together. As typical of Japanese cinema, there's even a very positive moral to the story, making this bewildering mess quite a bit of fun to watch for the entire family. Get your hands on this hilarious film if you can."
Wearer of Pants | Burbank, Ca United States | 01/27/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"While at the Philadelphia Film Festival in early 2002, I saw this movie and I was stunned. Rarely can the words grotesque and heartwarming describe the same movie, but in this case, both adjectives are apt. This film struck me the same way BOTTLE ROCKET did; it took ideas normally considered negative and dark (in this case hotel guests dying in disturbing ways) and twisted them into something positive, touching, sublime, and fun. This one's not for the cynics. If you're an intelligent, positive, and fun person with an offbeat sense of humor you'll LOVE this movie. It will make you smile and laugh for hours afterward.See it if you like stuff along the lines of Bottle Rocket, Harold and Maude, or Oh Brother Where Art Thou. The humor is in the vein of Mystery Science Theater or Spaceghost Coast2Coast.If your tastes are overly serious, dark, or cynical, I'd stay away as it will most likely just annoy you."