Lala Pipo - A Lot of People (18)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner12/11/2009

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 93 mins

Watchable Japanese drama-slash-sex comedy with strong performances and a handful of great scenes but the tone is uneven and it never really comes together in a satisfying fashion.

What's it all about?
Based on a novel by Hideo Okuda and directed by Masayuki Miyano (Kamikaze Girls), Lala Pipo – A Lot of People is a brightly coloured Japanese drama-slash-sex comedy about six different characters and their various connections with the sex industry in modern-day Shibuya, central Tokyo.

The characters include: frustrated freelance writer Hiroshi (Sarutoki Minagawa), who masturbates so much that his penis (represented by a furry green Muppet cock) has started to complain; Hiroshi's upstairs neighbour, sleazy porn scout Kenji (Hiroki Narimiya), who's set his sights on cute-but-shy department store assistant Tomoko (Yuri Nakamura); Tomoko's mother Yoshie (Mari Hamada), who has a secret of her own; karaoke booth attendant Koichi (Takashi Yoshimura), who's appalled by the sleazy goings-on in the cubicles and fantasises about being a superhero who rids the streets of filth; and chubby Sayuri (Tomoko Murakami), who has a lucrative career selling videos of her sexual encounters but dreams of voicing mainstream anime.

The Good
The performances are excellent, particularly Sarutoki Minagawa, whose air of pathetic desperation leaves you unprepared for one of the film's most shocking moments. There's also strong support from Tomoko Murakami as the film's most likeable character, who also gives the film its title by mishearing an American tourist exclaiming “There's a lot of people” as “Lala Pipo.”

Using his familiar day-glo style, Masayuki Miyano orchestrates some superb individual scenes and hints at some interesting connections between the sex industry and social alienation, unhappy childhoods and rejection but the script ultimately fails to explore them in any real depth.

The Bad
On top of that, some characters are much better drawn than others and hardly any of them are sympathetic – we lose interest in Hiroshi as soon as he's deserted (in disgust) by his furry green Muppet cock, Kenji is an unrepentant sleazeball throughout and Koichi is given short shrift by the script as the most underwritten character. In addition, the tone is very uneven and while some sudden shifts work well, the film fails to come together overall.

Worth seeing?
Lala Pipo – A Lot of People is never less than watchable, thanks to strong performances and a handful of great scenes but the uneven tone prevents it from engaging on an emotional level.

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Content updated: 21/07/2018 20:40

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