For example the first two times he asks a girl out (she's dating one of his best friends) its awkwardly funny reminiscent of America's “Aptow” humor. But by the time he asks her out the fourth time, the anguish in her eyes is genuine as she tries to explain the situation to him again, in a way that he'll understand. His heartbreak and humiliation is equally real and devastating. The drama is echoed in Igarashi's sister who is constantly covering for him, even as strain of the situation becomes to much for her. And again in his father trying so hard to remain in denial, who keeps telling the neighbors down at the saki bar what a great lawyer his son is becoming. But despite the potential for melodrama (and some of the drama is played broadly) Koizumi keeps the direction remarkably restrained which makes the drama all the more believable. Koizumi's accomplishment is even more remarkable considering that the young director is only 27.
As the film moves towards the BIG MATCH that serves as it's climax it hits all the expected notes with just the right humor and pathos to keep the audience vested in the characters with out losing the energy and fun that the film starts with.
A great deal of credit should go towards the young cast, all of whom performed their own wrestling stunts, and infuse their characters with enough charm to bring them to vivid life. As ridiculous as the premise of the film is – the final match is as gripping as it gets. Igarashi, the ultimate sports underdog, fights against overwhelming odds to come out with a smidgen of honor and self respect. A victory he probably won't even remember.
But audiences surely will. Gachi Boy will have you cheering along with the in-film spectators at the final match, and leave you smiling and encouraged by the time it's over.
Koizumi is touring the Festival circuit, with a wider US release hopefully to follow. Gachi Boy is a definite crowd pleaser and one of those rare films that actually earns its label as "feel good" movie. Check it out if it comes to your town!