Review: Films Set In Japan – People Just Do Nothing: Big In Japan (2021)

Of all the British TV series to get the big screen treatment, it was something of a surprise that this niche show was ultimately chosen. Many TV shows have tried and failed to make the leap from the small screen but how did ‘People Just Do Nothing‘ fare?

With absolutely zero knowledge beforehand, I was able to see this 97 minute film shortly after its release back in 2021. I still enjoyed that first viewing, and indeed liked it enough to go back and binge watch all 27 episodes (five series) over a few weeks before re-watching the film with new eyes. All of that happened just over a year ago and much had been forgotten so I had to rewatch it yet again the other day in order to push this review over the finish line!

Warning: Contains spoilers!

Of course previous experience of the characters makes this film more fun and enjoyable but it is made as a standalone movie for those who want to dive straight in. As aforementioned, I went in blind and was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed, laughed, and even related to it.

The first twenty minutes or so helps you get aquanited (or reacquainted) with the characters in their own world (Brentford, UK) before the action moves to what MC Grindah (Allan Mustafa) calls “the best city in the world……Japan”!! Of course the Japanese scenes were what interested me the most and were indeed what brought the show to my attention in the first place.

Naturally, it is all filmed as a fly-on-the-wall documentary staying true to the TV series. There are times though when this format makes no sense in terms of cameras being allowed to film certain scenes but one just has to suspend a bit of belief when it comes to such things.

The movie begins years after Brentford’s most popular pirate radio station has gone off the air with MC Grindah and DJ Beats (Hugo Chegwin) doing jobs as a postman and a bowling centre worker. Their manager Chabuddy G (Asim Chaudhry) informs them that one of their tracks has been used on a popular game show in Japan and so the opportunity to travel to Tokyo presents itself.

Filming on the streets of Tokyo is never easy and the administration which producers need to go through is rather arduous which may explain why it’s mostly done guerilla style or inside places. That all fits in with the style and presentation of the show anyway. The locales used include Shinjuku (particularly the Kabukicho area), Shibuya, Roppongi, Nezu Shrine (in Bunkyo-ku), Toyosu Pit and The Okura Tokyo Hotel in Toranomon.

The locations may have been why the film was pushed my way but they are perhaps what make this film move too far away from its roots. There isn’t too much MCing and the whole Japan storyline is perhaps a little unbelievable and detached from the whole urban UK garage and pirate radio scene. 

Much of the movie doesn’t feel like being about Korupt FM and instead it becomes a  satirical storyline about how big labels in the Japanese music industry treat their artists and exert power over them. They are able to coerce them into doing things they may not have originally wanted to and sure enough that is what gradually happens here as friendships are tested. 

Chabuddy G was the star of the show for me in the earlier seasons particularly but sadly he doesn’t have enough to do in this plotline. He becomes a bit isolated from the band and their new management and that too is reflected by the lack of important action for him in this film. The character of Miche (Lily Brazier) is also underused and some of her scenes were rather lacking in purpose. Roche (Ruth Bratt) is pretty much absent for most of the movie and only has a bit-part to play. This is what happens though when you take a TV show abroad. Not every character can realistically go!

I may have come across quite negative in this review but the fact is that I did enjoy it. That may be partly due to the attachment I have to the characters but elsewhere the pacing and runtime are fine, and there are enough funny and cringe moments to keep you entertained. The plot wasn’t too bad but it did feel a bit forced and not true to the spirit of the TV series.

Tokyo Fox Rating 7/10

About tokyofox

A Leicester City fan teaching English in Japan
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