Kôki Mitani – Rajio no jikan aka Welcome Back, Mr. McDonald (1997)

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Comedy is certainly not the first thing that comes to mind when we think of Japanese cinema. But a few more films like Koki Mitani’s hilarious screwball farce “Welcome Back, Mr. McDonald” could change all that.

This movie is ostensibly a goofy comedy about a live radio drama that goes haywire after the imperious diva playing the lead insists on certain last-minute changes. Her demands set in motion a desperate chain of events that transform a sudsy romantic drama set in a Japanese fishing village into a ludicrous action-adventure fantasy set in the United States.

“Welcome Back, Mr. McDonald” can be taken as pure, giddy fun in a farcical tradition that has all but disappeared from American movie comedy in the age of the salacious gross-out. But it can also be taken as a good-natured invitation to Japanese culture to lighten up. Its manic surface only partially conceals its satiric barbs. Continue reading