CAPSULE: GETTING ANY? [MINNA YATTERUKA!] (1994)

DIRECTED BY: Takeshi Kitano

FEATURING: Dankan, Takeshi “Beat” Kitano

PLOT: A horny loser tries his best to get laid. He decides his main goal is to have sex in a car

Still from Getting Any? (1994)

and when that doesn’t work, he embarks on various escapades to gain money or notoriety; he even goes as far as becoming invisible to get some action.   Absurd situations and mistaken identities lead to one disaster after another.

WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: It is slapstick comedy Japanese-style. While much Japanese humor leans toward absurdity, this film misses the mark completely. The ending comes off as slightly weird, yet the pointless and unfunny comedy bits which lead up to the finale make the ending just another misguided joke that falls flat (or in this case, splat).

COMMENTS: For as many movies I have seen in my life, I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never seen the classic films by acclaimed director Takeshi “Beat” Kitano.  Films such as Hana-Bi, Sonatine and Violent Cop are all considered masterpieces in the yakuza films genre. Getting Any? is a straight-up slapstick comedy farce and is probably not the best place to start in exploring Kitano’s works.  His yakuza films are noted for their subtle use of deadpan acting and humor nestled snugly within the violent action.  If that is the case, Getting Any? acts as the polar opposite.  The humor is in your face with infinite gags and subtlety is thrown out the window with some goofy sound effect.  It is nonsensical, amateurish, juvenile and above all else… not funny.  The film satirizes iconic Japanese pop culture such as the Zatoichi films, Lone Wolf and Cub and even Godzilla pictures.  It also takes a stab at Western pop culture, although the references (Michael Jackson and Ghostbusters) were relevant 10 years prior to the release of this film.

The lead character Asao (Dankan) is a middle-aged man desperate to find just one woman to have sex with him.  He is a perpetual daydreamer who constantly fantasizes about an alter-ego who is always lucky in this department. In Asao’s mind, there must be a surefire way to get women to easily bare their breasts and succumb to his sexual advances.  His first inclination is to get a car because that seems like the most opportune place to do the deed.  Problem is, money is short and all he can afford are broken down jalopies that women scoff at, and which even cause kids on buses to chortle and berate him.  He cruises anyway, continually attempting to lure the ladies.  He gets right down to business asking “Do you want to have sex in my car?”  When the women are offended, Asao is surprised and wants to know if they “dislike sex.”  That must be the reason; it certainly couldn’t be that he is a stranger asking her to fornicate in a car!  After the first automobile brings him zero luck, he figures a convertible is the answer.  Now money is even tighter, so he resorts to selling his grandfather’s internal organs.  The convertible he buys with the proceeds literally falls to pieces, but hey, it still runs and is spacious enough to get horizontal.  After his third vehicle (a stolen sports car) ends up stuck in a billboard (it had no brakes), he finally gives up on the car idea.  However, you can’t keep a determined man down and Asao wants to go up.

Now he figures the best way to score is to get a first class airplane ticket and join the mile-high club.  What else would first class passengers do besides cavort and get it on with sexy airline attendants?  Now out of cash flow options, he decides to rob a bank in a clown mask using a gun randomly given to him by a bloodied and dying yakuza hitman.  The bank heist ends up as another fiasco.  The bank teller, oblivious to his threats (and appearance) insists he take a number and wait his turn like everybody else.

For such a pathetic character, Asao somehow manages to turn all of his bad luck into unbelievable opportunities.  He tries his hand at acting and actually lands a role of the blind master of a Zatoichi film.  His audition, consisting of him singing a silly ditty with pictures scrawled around his armpit hair, gets him the part because the producers see this as sincere authenticity.  I admit this was a funny scene and was the only time I laughed aloud, though the laughter mainly escaped through my nostrils instead of from my throat.  In other words, it wasn’t that funny.  After the acting career ends in disastrous results, our loser winds up as part of a yakuza gang.  Due to Asao’s ineptness he inadvertently kills an informant who had been targeting the marked boss.  The roles Asao fills throughout the film are supposed to provide “fish-out-of-water” hilarity with rapid-fire gags tossed in to give the comedy more “oomph.”  The style could be likened to American spoof films like Airplane or the Naked Gun, but unfortunately the Japanese humor gets lost in translation and the comedy elicits more groans than chuckles.

The ending of the film comes close to weirdness, but by this point we’ve followed Asao through so many ridiculous scenarios it just doesn’t matter anymore.  It goes like this: Asao gets involved with scientists who promise to fulfill his wish to become invisible.  He yearns for this ability for the sole purpose of entering female Japanese bath houses to peep.  By this time, the character’s obvious penchant for naughtiness comes as no surprise and we would expect no less of him but to invisibly invade adult film sets to lick unsuspecting calves.  The improbable invisibility project is temporarily successful, but as soon as the scientists decide to take their accomplishment public, Asao has reverted back to his visible state.  Back to the lab they go.  This time the trial to perfect their flaws goes even more awry.  A fly inhabits the testing incubator which interferes with the project and morphs with the subject like Brundlefly from Cronenberg‘s The Fly.  Basically, Asao’s fly is a rubber-suited, leg-rubbing entity bent on destruction for no good reason.  Now all he wants to do is wreck havoc on Japan (a la Godzilla).  The final solution for the residents of Japan is to capture and destroy Asao-flyman.  The trap is the largest supply of fecal matter imaginable.  Once he has taken the bait, they smack him with the biggest mechanical fly swatter filmdom has ever constructed.

It works.  The once perverted, lonely misfit is eliminated from society and the last words he can muster are “car sex.”  This proves the altered fool still clings to the one thing that made his miserable existence a worthwhile endeavor… the possibility of getting some booty.

Besides not having seen other Kitano films before this mess, I was also unaware of his comedic origins in his native Japan.  Apparently, Kitano is a well-respected comedian and the Japanese people love him.  I hope this film is not indicative of why his humor has left such an endearing impression on his country.  As much as I disliked this film, it has not led me astray from seeing his “true” classics someday.  I can easily forgive this travesty.  I purposefully included the spoiler ending so the rest of you do not have to suffer.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“…an all-out slapstick comedy full of sex humor, pop culture parodies and simply bizarre moments mashed together to create a wildly enjoyable hybrid of Airplane, Woody Allen’s Take the Money and Run and Looney Tunes cartoons.”–Tarun, Asian Cinema Drifter (DVD)

(This movie was nominated for review by reader “Folkwin.” Suggest a weird movie of your own here.)

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