Loosely based on the Korean black comedy movie "Quiet Family," this extraordinary genre-blending remake tells the story of a modern dysfunctional family and their shared dream of opening a guest house in the country. Despite all their best efforts, the guest house has the unfortunate habit of attracting guests who all turn up dead in the morning. The Katakuris, just regular folks, do their utmost to make a success of the place despite all these setbacks -- and audiences will be rooting for them to succeed even as they keep planting stiffs out in the grove behind the house.
For despite its bizarre horror-movie story line, the movie is an uplifting tale of ordinary people battling against the odds. The Katakuris don't kill any of their guests (well, not intentionally). They're just normal people trying to get by, even as fate throws more and more dead bodies at them. Because at the end of the day, nothing kills business at a hotel quicker than rumors of a death in a room... Especially if it's the very first guest who ever stayed there.
In tune with its quirky story, the film mixes movie genres and styles with abandon. Some sequences are filmed using claymation. As in a musical, the characters suddenly burst into song, or spontaneously start dancing as the mood takes them. There's even an incredible subplot with a Japanese conman who claims to be the bastard son of Queen Elizabeth of England (even more incredibly, this character is based on a real person). The climax features a bizarre "Singing in the Rain" style dance routine, where even the corpses get up from their graves to join in the splashy hoofing. The soundtrack is packed with perky, up-tempo numbers that will have viewers singing along.
"The Happiness of the Katakuris" is directed by Takashi Miike, one of several Japanese directors receiving international acclaim at the moment. Miike made his name with movies as diverse as "Audition" (2000) "Dead or Alive" (2000) and "City of Lost Souls" (2000) and if there's one thing that links his films in many genres it is the fact that he is constantly astonishing! He brings a sense of play and surprise to all his movies, and in this unique musical comedy you can expect the unexpected. Prepare to be amazed, shocked, even outraged.
The movie features an all star cast chosen for their acting and their ability to carry a tune. Mr. Katakuri is played by Kenji Sawada, a star from his days with the rock band The Tigers and actor in classic films such as "The Man who Stole the Sun" and Paul Schrader's "Mishima." Stage musical and movie star Keiko Matsuzaka ("Sting of Death", "PingPong ") plays his long-suffering wife. Young actress Naomi Nishida ("Nabi's Love") plays the daughter, while handsome young actor Shinji Takeda ("Gohatto", "Pulse", "Tokyo Eyes" etc.) takes on the role of the useless son. Charismatic rock star Kiyoshiro Imawano plays the slightly foreign-looking conman in a naval uniform.
The Happiness of the Katakuris is a constantly surprising entertainment. A black comic musical that will have viewers cheering on the Katakuri family as they battle against the odds -- and the bodies.
The story begins with the family opening their guesthouse in the mountains behind the famous summer resort town of Karuizawa. After several quiet weeks without a single guest, their troubles begin a group of passing psychics tell the Katakuris that their house is cursed and doomed. The next night, during a storm, the first guest arrives in the dark. A depressed and lonely man, he commits suicide in the room. Afraid that the notoriety could kill the business before it even starts, the family hastily buries the body in the woods behind the house.
The next guests who arrive to spend the night are a very unfit sumo wrestler and his tiny girlfriend. They both expire in a heated sexual bout, and the Katakuris are forced to bury them too. Meanwhile daughter Shizue is embarking on a romance with a dashing naval officer, a foreign-looking gentleman who speaks accented Japanese and claims to be the bastard son of Queen Elizabeth and a spy. While Shizue is swept off her feet by the foreigner's exotic exploits, the Katakuris are fighting to keep the bodies from being discovered. But the police are sniffing around, and even Nature itself seems intent on unearthing the corpses with storms, rain, earthquakes and landslides.
Will the Katakuris find happiness together in their idyllic mountain guest house, despite all the bodies piling up in the back yard? Or will Fate expose their fumbling, bumbling attempts to hide the unfortunate little accidents?