People Just Do Nothing: Big in Japan Review

I think it’s worth saying right out of the gate that I’ve not seen a full episode of People Just Do Nothing. I’m familiar with the show having seen a few clips of it, the British Airways safety videos with Asim Chaudhry and Chaudhry’s appearance on Taskmaster. That said, I think that any film should be able to stand on it’s own and shouldn’t be reliant on prior material. As such, I decided to see how this film would work for someone who hasn’t seen the show and I ended up enjoying it.

Set a few years after the events of the TV series, the film follows the crew of former pirate radio station Kurupt FM who find out that one of their songs has become popular after being used on a Japanese game show. Being offered a record deal, the Kurupt FM crew, along with their manager Chabuddy G, fly out to Japan. However, once they get to Japan, the crew soon find out that more focus is being put on MC Grindah and that they were being asked to behave more like a traditional J-pop band. Now the general idea behind the film of sending the main characters from a UK TV show abroad is a very general trope that most films of this type do, but this film gives more of a plot specific reason for it. Most other shows like this just send the characters on holiday but having this be a business idea, and playing on the ‘big in Japan’ theme feels like a more natural fit for these characters. It also allows for some decent comedy from the culture clash of the Kurupt FM crew with Japanese culture. I was a bit worried at the start that it would fall into the stereotype of making fun of Japanese culture, but the jokes here are clearly more focused on the Kurupt FM crew. There are still some moments where the target is Japanese culture, mainly with the game show, but even then the focus is on the Kurupt FM crew. There are also some decent plots elements regarding the relationship between MC Grindah and DJ Beats and the idea of fame getting to Grindah’s head and resulting in his ego pushing Beats away is a generic story, but well handled here.

The performances as well add to the humour of the film. Allan Mustafa as Grindah does a good job at showing how his ego is fed during the course of the film and how he is more willing to compromise his ideals in order to achieve fame. Hugo Chegwin as Beats meanwhile shows that he is more down to earth in regard to fame and is more focused on the ideals of Kurupt FM, not being as willing to go against them as Grindah. Steve Stamp as Steves is a great comic character, his efforts to get weed in Japan and his adverse reaction to drugs creating some great comedic moments and there’s a sweet subplot he has with the translator for Kurupt FM, Miki, played by Hitomi Souno. The only member of the Kurupt FM crew I felt was underserved was Dan Sylvester as Decoy as he seems to just blend into the background and doesn’t really get a chance to shine. Now that could be the way the character acts on the show, but again I’m not familiar with it so I can’t say for sure. What is clear is that the main Kurupt FM crew all have excellent chemistry with each other, creating some great jokes and the years of collaboration creating an effortless charm to their characters, selling the friendship they have.

Moving away from the Kurupt FM crew, I have to say that, even just based on the film, Asim Chaudhry’s Chabuddy G is one of the great comedic characters in recent years. We see Chabuddy G as someone who thinks he’s this charming, competent and invaluable figure when he’s just incompetent and coasting by, being nowhere near as skilled or important as he thinks he is, using the ideas of others to make himself look better and getting by mostly on cheating. A lot of the best jokes in the film come from Chabuddy G and Chaudhry has great comic timing to make Chabuddy G such a compelling character. Lily Brazier as Miche is a decent character, but one where I think a greater familiarity with the show would have made her a more interesting figure and more of the jokes I was worried about come from her character acting like a stereotypical western tourist in Japan. I’ve already mentioned that Hitomi Souno is a charismatic performer and has a sweet chemistry with Steve Stamp and Ken Yamamura plays the sleazy record executive well, showing how he wants to mould Kurupt FM into a stereotypical J-pop band, and not really being respectful of the roots of Kurupt FM, being more focused on money.

Overall, I had a good bit of fun with this film. I’m sure that a lot of the jokes would play better if I was more familiar with People Just Do Nothing, but from what I’ve seen in the film it is a really solid comedic idea, aided by the excellent chemistry of the cast and an all time great comedic character with Chabuddy G. I’m still not 100% sold on this working as a feature film and a finale to the characters, again because of my lack of familiarity with the show, but it works decently enough for newcomers and is an entertaining watch.

My Rating: 3.5/5

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