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The movie starts with a girl, going to a restaurant and having a soup. Suddenly, a figurine emerges from the soup. It can best be described as a devilish little angel. Then suddenly, the movie turns into claymation, and the figurine rips off the girl's uvula! All of that accompanied with happy Irish music!!!
A movie like that can only turn out great no? Well, i loved it!!! This is another fare from one of my favorite new directors Takeshi Miike that just manages to surprise you over and over again with its creativity, its twists and turns, and its songs. Yeah, did i forget to mention it? It's a horror musical! And the numbers are not bad. I actually had quite a ball singing along myself. This is 100% Miike while remaining very upbeat and sweet, which is definitely not a common Miike trait.
"Happiness of the Katakuris" tells the story of a middle aged man who just lost his job as a shoe salesman and decides to run an Inn. His whole family follows: his wife, his father, his son, his daughter and her daughter. All is well at the Katakuri Inn but visitors are rare. One night, a man shows up, their first customer. But, during the night, he dies. Panic stricken, the family decides to get rid of the body. The guy is dead already, and telling the authority would surely destroy any hope for the Inn to become popular. A few days later, other visitors come, and guess what; they die too during the night. The Inn is cursed.
What follows are a series of odd, strange, funny moments, with a tint of sweetheartedness that is totally uncharacteristic of Miike. But it works. He succeeds here in a totally different format from what he is used to. It's hard to believe that the same guy who did "Ichi The Killer" also did this movie.
Technically speaking, we have the standard Miike quality. As usual, the writing is top notch with things you never saw before, or twists you would never have thought off. Miike remains the master of his style, which is so unconventional. The film is very well done in all respects. As I mentioned before, the music is really cool. The art direction and cinematography is great. The claymation scenes are always so creative and beautiful. They are very reminiscent of Tim Burton's visual style, but imbued with Miike's own twisted sense of irony and strangeness. The performances are all good too.
"Happiness of the Katakuris" is a jolly good time. This is a great Takeshi Miike that is watchable and enjoyable by non Miike hard-code fans I think. In that respect, it is similar to "City Of Lost Souls". It's still over the top, but not perverse like his other movies, and as such, it is more approachable. I really recommend it to anyone looking for something very different, funny, and well done, even if at times, it can feel a little bit silly.
- Laurent Hasson