Parents' Guide to

The Asakusa Kid

By Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Japanese comic protégé outshines his teacher; language.

Movie NR 2021 122 minutes
The Asakusa Kid Poster Image

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The Asakusa Kid has many entertaining moments, but falls short in its characterization of Take. American audiences come at this with the probable disadvantage of being unfamiliar with the real-life entertainer, Takeshi Tikano, that this is based on. Apart from Take's determination to learn to tap dance, we see no evidence of hidden abilities, comic or otherwise, and wonder what the great master Fukami sees in him. The confident entertainment legend that is the Take we meet at the end of the movie bears no relation whatever to the shy, self effacing lad he once was, leaving us unconvinced that such a transformation could plausibly have taken place.

Further muddying our understanding of Fukami's alleged genius and Take's comic success is a showcase of comic skits and dialogues that have Japanese audiences in stitches but are unlikely to crack even a smile in an American viewer. Most of the performances come across as yelling and oppositional cross-talk, without much wit, even as Take tries to emulate the edginess and profanity of American comedian Lenny Bruce. We have to take the movie's word for it that these guys are comic geniuses Japanese-style. And why is the "famed" Fukami relegated to performing skits between strip acts? Also a mystery are Take's many facial tics. The real-life Take shares the affliction, but the actor portraying him seemingly exhibits a tic in a different place in every scene. The movie gets high marks for ambition, especially as it documents the slow dominance of television in the 1960s over the once-powerful theater in Japan. But it gets lower marks for internal cohesiveness. On the plus side, the lead actors are good. Yagira won the Best Actor prize at the Cannes Film Festival for Nobody Knows, in which he appeared when he was only 14. He gets the flashier role here, but Oizumi gives the far more nuanced and affecting performance.

Movie Details

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