Film Movement – Year 11 Film 8: Kenji Uchida’s “Key of Life”

sub2two-stars1Fact: Brain aneurysms, bad; escapist entertainment, good. With that being said, rags-to-riches screwball romantic comedies involving that tried and true comedic premise of mistaken identity should not cause brain aneurysms, nor should any movie for that matter. But holy shit, does my brain hurt after watching this.

Okay, so I may have exaggerated my claim of having suffered an aneurysm, but that doesn’t change the fact that the amount of unnecessary twists tacked on to the end of this film forced me into an unexpected bout of overthinking a story that should have been – and what clearly started out to be – mindless entertainment.

No screwball comedy is complete without having at least a couple of one-dimensional characters, and right of the bat we’re introduced to three of them – our protagonists. There’s the single business woman who in the middle of an all-staff meeting announces her desire to meet and marry a robust, healthy, and hardworking man within the next 30 days. As uninteresting and unfunny as this character inevitably turns out to be, without her the word ‘romantic’ would have been dropped from the film’s genre label, resulting in the loss of a very large demographic. Other than providing the romantic portion of the film, she serves zero purpose, and is shallowly written as such.

Then there’s the two lead males, the participants of the film’s switcharoo aspect. There’s the clean cut and meticulous hitman, and the slobbish struggling actor. Leave it to a bar of misplaced soap in a public bathing house to cause an epic fall, thus sending the hitman to the hospital with a bout of amnesia and leaving the struggling actor to take over his lavish lifestyle. Shenanigans ensue.

Premises such as this will no doubt lead to humorous hijinks, the question then is, how well can the film execute the comedy and how long can it hold my interest before I grow weary of the concept. Well, from a comedic standpoint the setups and jokes worked – most of the time. And even though I didn’t find there to be any uncontrollable pee-in-you-pants funny moments, I still found plenty of mild humor suitable enough to hold my attention.

Though clearly a comedy, my overall take on Key of Life is that of tragedy. This film could have been 80 to 90 minutes of solid mindless entertainment, and were it not for the need to appease a dull romantic side plot and litter the film’s ending with more twists than a 100 feet of Christmas lighting, it would have been. And that to me is the tragedy. Someone send this film for a re-editing – pronto.

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Categories: Reviews

One Comment on “Film Movement – Year 11 Film 8: Kenji Uchida’s “Key of Life””

  1. January 2, 2014 at 11:59 am #

    I loved this film, as a comedic farce I thought it was brilliant and doesn’t particularly require characters of depth.

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