Dir: Omori Tatsushi | Dragons & Tigers | Japan | 2014 | 124 mins
Oct 04 1:45 pm | Rio Theatre
Slacker bromance comedies have gained a category of their own, largely thanks to the stunted man-children made famous by Judd Apatow. His band of male protagonists caught in arrested development often lack reason for their absence of maturity, and at first glance, director Omori Tatsushi’s Tada’s Do-It-All House: Disconcerto appears to fall into the same vein, albeit a Japanese version with tobacco instead of weed. However, such comparisons immediately halt when we learn that the protagonist, Tada (Eita), lost his own son six years ago. Tada’s partner in the film, Gyoten (Matsuda Ryuhei), also has his reasons for being a stunted adult, though his reasons are not revealed until much later in the film.
Tada works as a do-it-all serviceman, running his business from his home which he shares with Gyoten. Together, they do oddball jobs for everyone ranging from the elderly to the Yakuza. This is where some of the funniest scenes occur, as Tatsushi knows just how to arrange a scene for maximum comedic effect. The chemistry between Tada and Gyoten is also spot-on, as both actors bounce off each other with perfect comedic timing, all within the contexts of a genuine friendship.
Inevitably, Tada and Gyoten must learn to let go of their pasts and do some growing up. The opportunity (and plotline) presents itself when Tada is tasked to be a babysitter for Gyoten’s sperm-donated child. Since they live together, Gyoten is forced into babysitting his own biological child, though with much reluctance.
Meanwhile, a subplot develops as a religious cult-turned organic farming group prepares to take on the Yakuza. Tada and Gyoten get caught up in their conflict, and it all builds towards a borderline ridiculous climax that involves a bus takeover by an elderly citizen’s group. Indeed, the plot and all the character connections do seem overwrought, but the film is so genuinely funny that it’s easy to buy into the convoluted elements of the film.
Some scene changes are cut with quirky cartoon drawing editing, which complements the comedic tone, but, at times, feels unnecessary. The epilogue is also clunky as Tatsushi uses a series of vignettes that each fades to black, only to reveal another vignette, all tied together by Tada’s voiceover.
The film, however, is ultimately heartwarming, though it never indulges in total sap. Instead, it offers the audience a reminder that life is worth living until old age, but instead of stopping to smell the roses along the way, you can stop and smoke some cigarettes instead.