Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Film Review: Lala Pipo: A Lot of People (2009)

Lala Pipo: A Lot of People (Review)
Japan/2009 
Format Watched For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: Yes

"...a confused film..."

The sexual misadventures of six people living in Tokyo, Japan.

Lala Pipo: A Lot of People is the story of a lot of people. The film follows a charismatic scout, who picks up women and persuades them into joining the adult video industry; an up-and-coming AV star who is recruited by said scout; a mature nymphomaniac who works in the AV industry; a karaoke box staff who believes he is an special agent from space; a lonesome writer whose only friend is his buddy down below; and, finally, an aspiring voice actress who secretly films her sexual misadventures. Although each story interconnects, I didn't think it was done very well. The ending is okay, too.

The problem with Lala Pipo is that it's a confused film – or maybe I'm part of a confused audience. The film begins as a raunchy and irreverent comedy, but quite often leans towards a sad and depressing drama. And, it tends to jump back and forth between both genres, without any subtly, which creates an inconsistent mood. Should I be laughing at this man's talking private parts? Or should I be sad at his loneliness? Honestly, it almost feels like I'm watching two different movies. One wants to be as sexually irreverent and blunt as possible, and the other wants to deliver a social message about life; unfortunately, the former is decent, and the latter never really lands.

I mean, the characters are interesting. They fall into some very humorous situations, but it doesn’t offer nearly enough character to relate. It has a message – maybe about people and reaching for new heights, and loving oneself, and so on – but it's simply lost in translation. As for the humor, I laughed a handful of times. I love black comedies, and this one has some great irreverent humor – emphasis on some, because not all of the humor is great. In fact, some of the humor doesn't work out due to the inconsistent serious tones I previously mentioned. Furthermore, the film tends to drag its feet; there are plenty of characters, but not enough story, so the film feels much longer than the short hour and a half runtime.

The acting is good from the cast. Nothing special or terrible, simply good. The film is also shot well, and it has some decent music. Again: nothing special and nothing terrible. The English subtitles on the Netflix Instant stream are great – I can't blame the subtitles for any mistranslations. The writing from Tetsuya Nakashima, who helms the brilliant film Confessions, is partly to blame for the inconsistent mood; the other part of the blame belongs to director Masayuki Miyano, who can conjure a handful of great laughs, but fails to deliver a consistent and satisfying story.

Overall, Lala Pipo: A Lot of People is a mediocre film. It could have been a very raunchy and funny comedy, but its attempts at drama – or at least what I believe are attempts at drama – ruin the mood; worst of all, the drama never resonates – it has a message, I'm sure, but it has no subtly and it doesn’t fit well with the rest of the film. If you're a fan of raunchy, there is some great humor; those looking for some hilarious insight on Japanese culture, look elsewhere.

Score: 4/10
Parental Guide: The film is all about sex. Aside from the sex and nudity, there are references to Japanese adult video.

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