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Overall Rating
4.88

Awesome87.5%
Worth A Look: 12.5%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 0%

1 review, 2 user ratings


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Get Up!
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by Brian McKay

"The Godfather of the Yakuza meets the Godfather of Soul . . . sort of"
5 stars

Who would have imagined that Japanese comedy and American Funk/Soul music would make such a pleasant pairing? Surprisingly, they meld almost seamlessly in the film GERROPA! (GET UP!), by director Kazuyuki Izutsu. And while the end result isn’t quite perfect, it’s the closest thing I’ve seen to a genuine “feel good” movie in a long time (a critical catch-phrase I usually loathe, but bestow upon this particular film with loving distinction). There’s just something great about seeing two aging Yakuza bosses on the bullet train, who suddenly leap to their feet and sing “Sex Machine”, complete with all of the patented James Brown moves.

Hanemura (Toshiyuki Nishida) is a Yakuza godfather who is about to go back to prison for a five year stretch. He is released on his own recognizance during the few days before his prison term begins, so that he may enjoy his last taste of freedom. When his second in command asks him if he has any regrets, he wishes he could see JB (his affectionate nickname for James Brown) in concert one last time before being locked up. He keeps to himself the fact that he would also like to find his daughter Kaori, who he has not seen for 25 years. Kaori and her mother left him after he went away to serve a previous prison term, and he has not heard from her since.

Even now, the fully-grown Kaori (the beautiful Takako Tokiwa) still has flashbacks to the time that she nearly died during a bloody assassination attempt on her father. Now a single mom with a young daughter of her own, Kaori works as an entertainment organizer. Her current project is a musical revue of celebrity impersonators at a major theme park.

While Hanemura goes off on his own to find his daughter, His second in command orders his group of young toughs to go and kidnap James Brown from the Tokyo hotel where he is staying in preparation for an upcoming concert. He wants Hanemura to be able to meet The Hardest Working Man in Show Business personally, before the Boss goes off to his cell. What the bumbling henchmen bring back instead of JB, however, is Willy - a very confused James Brown impersonator who is staying at the same hotel, and is scheduled to appear in Kaori’s review the next day. They boast about how easy it was to find and abduct the Godfather of Soul - until Hanemura’s right hand man instantly realizes that Willy is not the real deal, and begins smacking them around for incompetence.

Eventually, Hanemura finds his daughter’s current address, and goes there in hopes of a reunion. After confusing the older woman babysitting Kaori’s daughter with Kaori herself (“You’ve aged so poorly!” he blurts out), he is enthralled to discover Kaori’s daughter, Ayumi, the granddaughter he never knew existed. As he cries tears of joy, the precocious Ayumi calmly picks up the phone and calls Kaori to tell her that there’s a strange and obviously crazy man in the house claiming to be her grandfather.

This sets the stage for Hanemura’s reunion with Kaori – but not before everyone involved gets mixed up with a scandal involving Japan’s Prime Minister and some very compromising photographs that Willy has unwittingly smuggled into the country with him. Kaori also has to fend off the lecherous advances of the theme park’s manager, and find a last minute replacement for Willy, who is on the run from a pair of federal cops who want the pictures that he doesn’t even know he’s carrying.

But who better to fill in for Willy than Hanemura himself, who knows every JB lyric and move in the book?

Get Up! May not be a perfect film. It may be contrived and a bit silly and occasionally a showcase for some hammy acting. But damn it, it’s just so much fun! The odd moment of over-the-top antics aside, the cast is solid, and they look like they’re having as much fun making the film as you should be when watching it. Their exuberance hides a bevy of minor flaws, and the musical numbers are a booty-shaking good time. But the real soul of Get Up! isn’t from JB’s music, it’s from the bond Hanemura manages to forge with Kaori and her daughter. Although she is angry and hurt at first, having felt abandoned for so many years, the eventual reconciliation between Kaori and her father is easily one of the most touching scenes I’ve seen in months. There are plenty of fun, laugh-out-loud scenes and a few great musical numbers in Get Up! - but it’s the Kleenex moments that make it stay with you.

When all is said and done, and the final credits roll (featuring a giddy montage of all of the characters disco dancing), GET UP! Is an awesome film – not for an amazing screenplay or unparalleled directing, or any kind of technical brilliance. It’s an awesome film because it makes you want to jump up and sing, “I feeeel GOOD!”

link directly to this review at https://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=9292&reviewer=258
originally posted: 04/28/04 11:28:11
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 San Francisco Film Festival. For more in the 2004 San Francisco Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

8/06/04 aswin COOL! 5 stars
7/07/04 conan Incredible FUN, feel-good closure but Great family heart 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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