“What is the most important thing to remember when birthing sushi chefs from your Navel? Even if I told you, you wouldn’t believe me…”
The Funky Forrest, directed by Katsuhito Ishii, Hajime Ishimine is a very strange film. It is comprised of a series of repeating comedic vignettes. Some of the story lines sort of converge near the end but anyone expecting any kind of narrative should stay away, far away.
In one series of segments, The Babbling Hot Spring Vixens walk around a secluded resort taking baths, having pillow fights, flirting with the clientele, and gossiping about ridiculous subjects such as riding pandas in the rain and how to grow trees big enough to anger your neighbors. Then there is the “story” of the “Brothers Who Are Unlucky With Women” - which consists of an older Brother, a pre-teen overweight Caucasian brother and “Guitar Brother” who writes sappy songs and is played by Tadanobu Asano (best known for playing Kakahira in Ichi The Killer). The filmmakers are even kind enough to give Guitar Brother his own theme song. GeeeeeTaaaaaaa! Broooothah!
Then there is story of Takefumi and Notti, who may or may not be dating. They never consummate their love, but they do play vinyl records in Takefumi’s bedroom, and dance on the beach with aliens. (this 20 minutes musical number which involves Shamans, midgets dressed as prophylactic devils and a giant animated woman with propellers attached to her nipples forms the films centerpiece). In yet another scene, a young girl is teleported into space to play Dodge Ball with Atoms and robotic sperm.
The second half of the film, (there is a 3 minute Intermission complete with countdown timer), changes gears a little bit and takes place primarily in the “Homeroom” of a High School that would scare even David Cronenberg. Students are taught how to play instruments that are made from phallic alien beings, (suck on this slug thing here and watch his nose hair grow, stick the tail of that fleshy beetle into your anus and play it with flatulence, grow clones with the right facial expressions to get just the right note out of the hydra headed breast, etc.) while in the P.E. Class a girl must play tennis against the hairless rodents that fire out of her teacher’s anus, (they attach themselves and suck her blood when she misses, prompting the school nurse to be summoned)
There is a recurring chorus of sorts, by the “Mole Brothers”, which plays something like the Smothers Brothers meets Johnny Knoxville – but they are annoying and even the camera cant be bothered to keep them on screen very long (their scenes cut off abruptly, sometimes even in the middle of sentences).
I warned you: This film is strange!
The film is also long, clocking in at 2.5 hours. Despite this, many of the clips are actually pretty funny. The humor is deadpan, but effective and as the film progresses it actually develops its own logic. The scattershot sequencing is off-putting at first but also develops a rhythm that becomes enjoyable. Although the “effects laden scenes are fun, my favorite sections involved the rather mundane Takefumi and Notti, along with her very serious dog.
If there is any consistent theme, it would be that many of the characters are trying to get laid, or maybe they’re trying to save the world from an alien invasion… actually in the context of the film, those two accomplishments might be one and the same.
If this review is making you roll your eyes at the sheer ridiculousness, then stay away from the Funky Forrest. But if you’re curiosity is at all piqued, then check it out, it gets better - er –worse, or something.
- P.K. Eiselt