Udon


Reviewed by: sukting

December 21, 2009

Rating: two-point-five

How long
2 hours 15 min

Foreword
This movie is about the famous Japanese dish. Will you like it?

Story

Kosuke (Yusuke Santamaria) spends six years trying to become a English stand-up comedian in New York. He fails and decides to return home to the small town of Sanuki. It is also known as "Udon Country" because of many udon shops. He has left home and breaks off from the family's udon shop.

So his return doesn't make his father (Katsumi Kiba) happy. One day, on a trip to the woods, Kosuke's car breaks down. Luckily, he runs into the clumsy Kyoko (Manami Konishi). A bear causes them to be trapped at the bottom of a cliff. They manage to find an udon shop. They get to taste the best udon.

Required to repay his debts, Kosuke becomes a writer for the local town magazine. Kyoko also works there too. The town magazine has pour sales. Kosuke realizes that there are no magazines about udon shops. With some help from the colleagues and a childhood friend Takeshi Masu) who does advertising, Kosuke and Kyoko begin to write about the udon shops in Sanuki. They start writing with the one they first visit.

It becomes a food guide for udon lovers as it shows the address and the ratings for the shops. The magazine becomes famous and sales go well. It starts a nationwide Sanuki udon craze that attracts people from all over Japan. Hundreds of people appear at the shops to try out the dish. But time goes by, the fad fades and the team is challenged to find new udon shops after interviewing people eating them. Kosuke finally has to face his broken relationship with his father.

Kosuke has gone to so many places but he has never interviewed his father. Pride does not allow him to ask questions to find out from this expert. Only when his father suffers from a heart attack, he then realises his importance to him. He starts learning how to make udon from scratch. He learns that it isn’t as simple as he has thought to be and regrets not picking up the skill. Kyoto pities him and soon becomes his girlfriend to get through the broken patches. He soon discovers the beauty and restores the old shop’s glory.

Conclusion

This movie makes you appreciate the rich Japanese culture of family, love and food. It also shows how magazine agencies struggle to keep their sales going. It is tough indeed to stand out from a sea of magazines offering the same content so they have to go through the extra mile. The scenes of how the noodles are made are mouth-watering. Most scenes are shot in real udon shops and I get hungry when seeing the udon chefs making the dish initially.

However, the search for the shops takes more than 1 hour of our time and makes it look boring. I begin to grow sick of the soupy dish when it is presented too many times. It is like drumming too much bowls of udon down my stomach.

Maybe I am a lousy person in doing handmade noodles so to me, everything looks exactly the same. Even though the experts claim how tasty or how bouncy the noodles are, I can’t really tell since I am not at the spot to experience it. It becomes a kind of overdose as it gets too lengthy. However, the idea of having Captain udon – an imaginary comic character is a bonus as it offers some comic relief.

Having the segment on Kosuke with his father can be quite redundant. Although the message of treasuring our loved ones and not to appreciate those around us, I don’t see the connection of it. It can be true that it is best to be a skilled chef to know the process of making udon. Yet, I believe that many food critics are not good chefs even if they have excellent taste buds. However, I do agree with the fact that a chef’s son should at least know the basic skills of cooking.

The topic on food is a popular theme but it is a pity that the director does not keep up a consistent pace. Maybe they can spice up a competition in order to make the final shop the cover issue or to choose the best udon shop within the province. It can also offer the history on when udon starts but it doesn’t. It ends with such a bland note. What a pity!

Sukting’s ratings :

On acting : **1/2 (Scale of 5)

On story : **1/2 (Scale of 5)



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Udon