Thank You (2021) by Mitsuru Kuramoto
” That’s a very bad idea.
Creating a vehicle for a comedy act can often lead to disappointment; take the performers out of their usual format to try to push them to be what they are not. But with “Thanc You,” manzai duo Jaru Jaru essentially stick to what they know, working the film around their act, rather than putting it into a script.
A male-female manzai act bickers over the other’s commitment to the double act; a teacher wants to disband his school’s mountaineering club because it has only one introverted member; a hairdresser insists that his clients focus only on him; a young man asks his roommate to move out because his last name is not from an onsen town…
Having found increased fame over the past few years through popular daily YouTube videos, Jaru Jaru – consisting of Junpei Goto and Shusuke Fukutoku – pushed their act to the big screen, with the recent “A◦rigato: Jaru Jaru Tower 2020” , and again working with director Mitsuru Kuramoto.Here, they play nearly every character in a series of two-man sketches, switching between the straight man/gag man dynamic, similar to their social media posts.
But to hold it all together, one half of each duo has a connection to the next couple, creating a mini-community of weird and wacky characters. There’s not a huge story arc, but there’s enough to make it more than just a series of sketches. The young would-be mountaineer finds an unsuitable comrade to join the mountaineering club, eventually revealing that he wants to start a band, organize a live show with his new friend’s sister, the female half of the manzai act, with comedy and live music. final.
Essentially, it’s a love letter to the people who got them to where they are today to say “thank you” for their part. It features the kind of characters that would normally be shunned as mild relief, like obscure encounters for the protagonists. This, however, is a series of dark moments and slices of life situations, making it the weird and wacky center stage.
The question however is: are you happy to watch more than ninety minutes of these moments, rather than a narrative? Well, as an overall movie, it doesn’t win any awards, but as an entertaining way to spend an evening, it certainly wins. We don’t spend enough time with any of the characters to get tired of them; and each skit is played with the right balance of weird and everyday to make us realize that life can be weird sometimes.
Technically, there’s not a lot to write about. The duo’s social media posts are read against a plain white background, letting the dialogue do the talking, so to speak. And likewise, Kuramoto keeps it simple, with no particular frills or special effects. Indeed, the only real extravagance is in the hair and makeup department, with some interesting wigs put to use.
A standout routine is the trainee magician who keeps getting it wrong, with an inspired joke that works well in a larger context. The ending, however, may leave you wanting a little more; resulting in nothing particularly clever or unexpected to end on a high. It’s just kinda nice.