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Hot Gimmick: Girl Meets Boy

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
Hot Gimmick: Girl Meets Boy Movie Poster Image
Disturbing bullying in bizarre Japanese melodrama.
  • NR
  • 2019
  • 119 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

No positive messages. Teen boys employ blackmail, drugged drinks, and revenge porn to take advantage of a teen girl. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

No positive role models. A teen girl agrees to be the "personal slave" of a teen boy who discovers she's pregnant and threatens to inform friends and family; the teen boy calls her a "slut" and a "stupid idiot" throughout the movie. Another teen boy drugs the girl's cocktail while they're at a nightclub in order to take advantage of her; he later talks her into removing her clothes while they're chatting on FaceTime, and then sends the video of her to her older brother. 

Violence

Extreme bullying. Teen boy forces teen girl to kiss him. Teen boy verbally abuses teen girl, frequently calling her a "slut" and "stupid." 

Sex

Teen boys talk about sex and women in a negative light, talking of how "the dumber they are, the more they spread their legs," and "an older woman peed while we were having sex." Teen boy tells teen girl that he "wants to do you raw." While FaceTiming, a teen boy convinces a teen girl to remove her clothes, telling her, "I want to see you naked." 

Language

"F--k" used several times. "S--t," "damn," "bitches," "hell," "pisses." 

Consumerism

Instagram, FaceTime. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drinking in a nightclub. Teen boy drugs a teen girl's drink; she's later shown to be drunk as her older brother rescues her and takes her home. Joint smoking in a car. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Hot Gimmick: Girl Meets Boy is a 2019 Japanese coming-of-age teen drama in which a meek teen girl is both bullied and pursued by two teen boys. It's an adaptation of a shojo (young woman) manga. These two teen boys are shockingly cruel to Hatsumi, the lead character. One teen boy threatens to tell the girl's family, friends, and neighbors that she's pregnant unless she agrees to be his "personal slave." He repeatedly calls her a "slut" and tells her how "stupid" she is on a regular basis. The other teen boy pretends to be attracted to Hatsumi, takes her to a club and drugs her drink, and then shortly after, while FaceTiming, convinces her to take off her clothes (no nudity in the scene), and he sends the video to her brother as a kind of revenge porn because he believes Hatsumi's father had an affair with his mother. Speaking of this older brother, shortly after discovering that he's adopted and not Hatsumi's biological brother, he believes that he's in love with Hatsumi. In addition to this insanely twisted (on many levels) storyline, teen boys are shown making lewd comments about women, teen girls are mean and judgmental, and the few adults tend to disappear after one scene. Some profanity, including "f--k." Besides the drinking in the nightclub, and the drugging of Hatsumi's drink, characters smoke a joint in a car. 

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What's the story?

In HOT GIMMICK: GIRL MEETS BOY, Hatsumi is a young teen who has just picked up a pregnancy test kit from her sister on the sly. When her teen neighbor Ryoki, a brooding math whiz, ends up in possession of the kit, he blackmails Hatsumi into being his "personal slave" in exchange for him not telling her mother and everyone in the apartment building. Meanwhile, Azusa, a boy who is now a well-known fashion model, has returned to live in Hatsumi's building. While Ryoki forces Hatsumi to carry his bookbag and constantly insults her even as it seems he's hiding his true feelings for her, Azusa also seems to be attracted to Hatsumi. It seems that Azusa wants to treat Hatsumi better than Ryoki, until he takes her to a nightclub and drugs her pear cocktail. Hatsumi's older brother, Shinogu, works at this nightclub and rescues her sister just in the nick of time. Despite this behavior, Hatsumi is still smitten with Azusa, who FaceTimes her one night and convinces her to take off her clothes. When she does this, Azusa sends the video to Shinogu, and then explains that the reason Azusa is behaving this way is because he believes that Shinogu and Hatsumi's father had an affair with Azusa's mother, thus breaking up Azusa's family. As all of this is happening, Ryoki begins revealing his true feelings for Hatsumi, and how he wants to be with her forever and have children with her. Also, Shinogu is revealed to be adopted, and has developed a deep affection for Hatsumi that goes way beyond their previous brother and sister relationship. In the midst of all of this, Hatsumi must choose who she wants to love, or if perhaps it's better to be more independent and assertive. 

Is it any good?

This is a bizarre, overwrought Japanese melodrama based on the popular shojo manga. The lead character, the young teen Hatsumi, lacks even a shred of self confidence, so much so that she feels her only options for true love are with either the "smart and sensitive" boy who has also blackmailed her into being his "personal slave," or the "popular bad boy" who tried to drug her cocktail at a nightclub in order to take advantage of her and then sends her brother a FaceTime video of her unclothed. And these are only the beginnings of the complications and hydra-headed story threads that may or may not lead anywhere. 

The chaos of the narrative is matched only by the chaos of the direction. Shots flicker and bounce, and it's impossible to determine how these stylistic choices enhance either the story or character development; they come across as pretentious and annoying. Maybe there's something lost in cultural translation from Japan to most Western audiences, but there really are no sympathetic characters. Like the above-mentioned teen boys, the other teens are deplorable and creepy, and the teen girls are universally mean and judgmental. And when the movie tries to show that the bullying blackmailer and the would-be date rapist are really just sensitive, it's just not believable. By the end of Hot Gimmick: Girl Meets Boy, with everything and the kitchen sink thrown at the audience, it's easy to forget that Hatsumi was concerned that she might be pregnant at the beginning of the movie, and it's impossible to recall if that narrative thread ever got resolved. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the problems and issues these teen characters face throughout Hot Gimmick: Girl Meets Boy. Did these problems and issues seem realistic, or did it seem exaggeraated for dramatic effect? 

  • How was the main character, Hatsumi, bullied by both teen boys and teen girls? How would you react in similar situations? 

  •  How does this compare to other "coming-of-age" movies you’ve seen? 

Movie details

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