out of Five
Running time: 107
Likeable Japanese comedy-drama with strong performances and several funny moments, though it runs out of steam before the end.
What's it all about?
Set in Tokyo, Fine, Totally Fine stars YosiYosi Arakawa as Teuro, a part-time tree-trimmer and full-time dreamer who lives in a poky flat above his father's used bookshop and spends all his free time playing horror-related pranks on his friends and dreaming about building a haunted theme park. His best friend is Hisanobou (Yoshinori Okada), a pathologically polite hospital manager, whose colleagues have all clubbed together to find him a girlfriend.
However, when accident-prone Akari (Yoshino Kimura) applies for a job at the hospital, Hisanobou falls head over heels for her, even though her clumsy nature means that her new employment isn't likely to last long. Eventually, Hisanobou secures her a job in Teuro's bookshop, where Teuro falls for her too.
This is the Japanese equivalent of the 'Manic Pixie Dream Girl' movie (e.g. Garden State, Elizabethtown, The Last Kiss) that American cinema is so fond of. Akari would be highly irritating in real life, but here her presence forces both Teuro and Hisanobou to grow up a bit.
The performances are excellent, particularly Keizo Kanie as Teuro's depressed father, who gets the film's most engaging sub-plot when he takes an impromptu holiday, inspired by a TV travel show. There are also several good gags (Teuro's pranks are all superb) and the film takes some unexpected turns along the way, leading to a surprisingly unconventional finale.
The main problem is that the pacing of the film doesn't really work: for example, it's over an hour before Akari even meets Teuro and his crush on her seems to develop instantly. Similarly, there's an ever-present tinkly piano soundtrack that is meant to be quirky and endearing but ends up getting on your nerves.
In short, Fine, Totally Fine is a watchable comedy-drama with likeable performances and some good gags, but it outstays its running time and will test your tolerance for Japanese quirkiness.