Masao, a nine-year-old boy, leaves Tokyo looking for the mother he's never met and ends up traveling through the countryside with a middle-aged petty crook, who resents the responsibility. — Genre: Foreign Film - Japanese — ... more »Rating: PG13
"Takeshi "Beat" Kitano got his start as a comedian in Japan, before his movie transformation into the familiar deadeyed killer. "Kikujiro" shows that he has not forgotten his roots. Here, the two Takeshi's blend in the character of an ex-Yakuza, who may not have a heart of gold, but at least bronze. Together with the gloomiest boy in Japan, they head off in a traditional road movie full of bumbles and discoveries.
"Kikujiro" is an incredibly sweet and of-kilter film. Quirky, subtly humorous, at times intense and disturbing, at times charming and disarming, Takeshi guides the film across the winding course of its plot, encountering a host of equally odd characters and situations. A woman juggler and her boyfriend the human robot, the fat and skinny bikers and the hippy thief all join in the journey with our odd couple. With each additional cast member, the story takes another unexpected twist.While a comedy, don't expect any gut-busting laughs. The humor is more bizarre and situational, the laughs are more smirks and good feelings. The pace is slow and patient, taking a long time to build the story and the characters. The images are beautiful, and the director takes some chances with his camera work that all work out well. "Kikujiro" is daring in its own way, while remaining heartwarming and affectionate.An excellent, highly recommended film."
Not where his bread is buttered
W. K. Miller | NC, USA | 06/02/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Takeshi Kitano, of Sonatine and Violent Cop fame, acts like a mild(er) middle aged thug man who befriends a young boy, in this touching, sad, and funny little movie set in present-day Japan.A little boy, who looks like he is maybe 7 years old, takes off on foot to search for his mother. He lives with his grandmother, who tells him his mother is far away, and working very hard for him. Soon after he leaves with the house, he runs into Kikujiro, whom he just calls "mister." "Mister" is probably a low level thug in some gangster group. Anyway, he's not too keen on kids, but his girlfriend sees that the boy takes off with mister, and they start across the country to find the boy's mother. At times this movie is very sad. The little boy has a timeless quality that many a child has evoked in the cinema, from 400 Blows to My Life as a Dog. When he acts sad, he seems to be so genuinely sad that when he finally does smile, you're that much happier for him. Kitano doesn't know how to handle life with a kid, at first, but being around him seems to lighten the old boy up. Still, he plays the stone faced unemotional thug through the movie, though he (almost) doesn't beat anyone up.Later, mister and the kid encounter a few oddball characters. They all do what they can to cheer the kid up. This is a great movie. I wouldn't recommend it for children (children wouldn't like much of it anyway, the humor is so lowkey), but I came to this movie with moderate expectations, and they were exceeded.Takeshi Kitano stepped outside the roles that butter his bread, and helped to make this great movie KIKIJURO.Big ups to Takeshi Kitano.More ups to Yusuke Sekiguchi for his portrayal of the kid.ken32"
Charming, sweet and odd
Jordan Itkowitz | Phoenix, AZ United States | 09/15/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Don't remember how I put this on my Netflix list, but I always like watching Japanese films beyond the normal J-horror/yakuza/martial arts/anime realm, 'cause it gives you somewhat of a glimpse into everyday Japanese life. This isn't exactly normal, more of a very whimsical roadtrip movie with a very Wes Anderson kinda feel. It's about a very ill-behaved guy taking a very shy boy on a trip to see his mom, and that's essentially a thin framework for a very fluffy, episodic series of encounters with all sorts of eccentrics, sweet-natured bikers and surly hotel managers. I don't know what kind of message this sends for Japanese kids, though - if you set out on the road, you will most likely not meet nice guys who will camp out and play games, put on shows and dress in silly costumes to make you laugh. Still, it's charming nonetheless, especially as you watch this shy, quiet boy come out of his shell thanks to the company and attention of his new friends. Beautiful piano score by Joe Hisashi, who, if I'm not mistaken, also did the music for Spirited Away. 3.5/5."
Forrest Popkin | Maryland | 08/01/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have seen Brother, which included Takeshi Kitano, and I loved him in that film. But after renting this movie from Blockbuster, I will definitely buy it to have as part of my Japanese movie collection.Takeshi (Kikujiro) played a brilliant role as a man of all sorts of emotions and actions which made me feel bad for him at times, and for others in different moments. The connection between him and the little boy (Masao) was very real and touching. The plot, though at times a little slow, was still cute and sentimental. The music, the acting, the story, the whole package was amazing when I decided to see it for the first and third time. I suggest this film to any person who enjoys a nice story without minding the subtitles. My little brother who hates subtitles also fell in love with the film!"
A Simple Perception of Kikujiro
LeeT. | Peoria, Illinois USA | 03/20/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"For fans of other Takeshi Kitano movies: be aware; this movie is quite different from his tough, violent, or crude films. Kikujiro is a very serene movie with excellent direction and beautiful cinematography. The music is playful and the story is delightful. I wished more information was given about the two main characters but it wasn't necessary for the overall pace. It is often humorous, and sometimes sad but fun to watch if you enjoy film with a "slice of life" feel."