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big in japanFor the love of rock and roll and Tokyo, Big In Japan is somewhere between The Spice Girls and Josie and the Pussycats movies. I expected it to be more like witnessing a band like Devo make love to Godzilla, but we can’t always have what we want.

Big in Japan is a semi-fictionalized movie about a real band out of Seattle, Tennis Pro (Sean Lowry, Phillip Peterson, & David Drury), who aren’t very popular in their hometown, so they decide to go out and travel to Tokyo, Japan to find their fan base.

The elements I really like about Big In Japan is that the band hangs out at the same places in Tokyo. It’s not flashy like Lost in Translation, showcasing the bright lights and quirkier aspects of Japan. The band makes friends as they travel along and if this is somewhat of a documentary based on their actual experiences they had in Japan, it seems like the surf-rock trio have a lot of gusto.

Even though Big in Japan has its moments, ultimately it’s quite obvious that these rockers are not actors, which director John Jeffcoat (co-writer/director of Outsourced 2006), admitted before the film premiered at SXSW. Unfortunately, most of the humor is lost in the film and the jokes that are delivered fall flat due to the writing and/or character delivery. However, there are some more serious, tense scenes in the film that come through in a believable way. In one particular scene, the characters are unexpectedly caught in a frenzy caused by an earthquake; perhaps to emulate the emotions felt after the real life Tsunami that hit Japan, oddly enough falling exactly two years from the films premiere date. 

Phillip (Phil) Peterson is also worth mentioning, kind of like a lost puppy dog, his story is more carved out in the film. Phillip actually came on stage at SXSW just prior to the film premiere to play the audience beautiful compositions on a Cello. It is obvious that he is very talented as a composer and producer.

I had higher hopes for Big In Japan, but I think it’s a celebration of the bands hard work and showcases Tennis Pro’s genuineness through their music which plays throughout the film. I hope that these guys get some more recognition as a band.



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