19 February 2008 | ken_mayer
Deservedly unknown in the U.S.
I loved Tampopo, Min-Bo, A Taxing Woman, and The Funeral. I thought Supermarket Woman would be of the same quality. Instead, Supermarket Woman was a long, stale formula. Was it made for TV? What constraints was Itami working under? The narrative strategy (no plural), acting, cinematography, and moral universe are almost equal to "Ace Ventura, Pet Detective." Itami's wife is the protagonist again. She gives good and obvious advice. The villains are cartoonishly evil. They are easily defeated. Everyone cheers. Repeat about 20 times. Perhaps this is funnier in the original Japanese, but the formula seems to bore even the main protagonist. If you are an anthropologist writing about how Japanese pop culture celebrates capitalism, this film *might* be worth digging up. Until I saw this film, I ranked Itami as one of my favorite directors. Now my faith is shaken. What happened? In contrast to Tampopo or The Funeral, there is no material in Supermarket Woman that would be objectionable for younger viewers. There is one scene where characters almost remove clothes. The chase scene and other "punches" are cartoonish and are less violent than "Toy Story" or "Home Alone". The lack of inventiveness and objectionable material made me wonder whether this was made for TV.