Wood Job Review
Director: Shinobu Yaguchi
Starring: Shota Sometani, Masami Nagasawa, Hideaki Ito, Yuka, Naomi Nishida
After failing his college entrance exams, slacker Yuki is unsure about what he should do. Rather than spend the next year studying as a ronin, Yuki is inspired to join a forestry training program because of the beautiful model on the application pamphlet. He finds a drastically more difficult world than he imagined in the rugged rural areas where there is no cell phone service, no convenience stores, and the travel time to the closest town is 2 hours by car. Tormented by a rough instructor (Ito), he begins to seriously question whether he should stay when he meets the pamphlet cover girl, Naoki (Nagasawa).
Director Shinobu Yaguchi has become one of most enjoyed directors of this millennium in Japanese film. His quirky humor, tendency to explore the odd situation, and his bizarre reverence to the seemingly oddest subcultures of which to make films have made me a fan ever since his work in Waterboys. He turns in another excellent and hugely enjoyable film that offers a lot of laughs and his typical sentimentality despite keeping everything fairly light.
Sometani is very good as the loser-ish Yuki. His facial expressions compliment his fish out of water role to create some amazingly funny moments. An actor I am not yet too familiar with, despite his growing popularity, I will have my eye out for him in the future. Nagasawa is absolutely charming as the mountain girl Naoki. Beautiful and strong, she’s the kind of romantic interest that seems way out of the league of our hero but that makes his growth and struggles so worthwhile. It also doesn’t hurt that I’ve probably had a crush on her since I was a teenager and she’s delivered once again here. The supporting cast is very good with Ito’s macho Yoki stealing many of his scenes as well as his ovulating and beleaguered wife Mike, played by Yuka. A surprising and very welcome appearance by Naomi Nishida, who was also in the director’s excellent My Secret Cache, rounds out a strong comedic ensemble that delivers way more than misses.
Absolutely hilarious and really charming in the best ways, Wood Job! is an overlooked gem of a comedy from a prolific and solid director. While he may never quite reach the heights of his Waterboys and Swing Girls days, Shinobu Yaguchi once again delivers exactly what I want. Extra big props have to be given to the fantastically fundoshi-filled finale, alliteration is the only way to describe it. Absolutely check this out!