Combustible Celluloid
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With: Toshiaki Karasawa, Kyoka Suzuki, Masahiko Nishimura, Keiko Toda, Inoue Jun, Toshiyuki Hosokawa, Kaoru Okunuki, Zen Kajiwara, Moro Morooka, Yoshimasa Kondo, Akira Fuse, Shunji Fujimura, Shiro Namiki, Hiromasa Taguchi, Yasukiyo Umeno, Takehiko Ono, Ken Watanabe, Kaori Momoi, Bsaku Sato, Somegoro Ichikawa, Nobuko Miyamoto
Written by: Koki Mitani, based on a play by Koki Mitani, Tokyo Sunshine Boys
Directed by: Koki Mitani
MPAA Rating: NR
Language: Japanese, with English subtitles
Running Time: 103
Date: 11/08/1997

Welcome Back Mr. McDonald (1997)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Radio Daze

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Written and directed by Koki Mitani, Welcome Back Mr. McDonald is a well-acted but silly Japanese comedy with an intriguing idea; a live radio play that goes horribly wrong.

This movie tells the story of a young and sensitive housewife who wins a contest and has her first radio play produced. The trouble starts when the show's narrator asks if he can change the line, "lifts up her eyes" to just "lifts her eyes." (The word "up" is redundant when used with "lift", you see.) From there it escalates at a furious rate until nothing in the play is performed as it was written.

To make matters worse, the CD library is locked and the technicians must learn how to make sounds live on the set. The real struggle begins when they must somehow bend and twist their mess of a story back into a happy ending.

Unfortunately the premise of this movie is more promising than the actual delivery. There are fewer real laughs than I expected and the ending goes on much too long and gets very sappy. Yet Welcome Back Mr. McDonald is kind of a sweet, old-fashioned movie, a bit like the recent Mumford, and I had a good time watching it.

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