The Crazy Family | Chicago Reader

The Crazy Family

An ideally symmetrical Japanese family—dad, mom, junior, and sis—moves into a new suburban home, where rising middle-class expectations (and gramps barging in for an open-ended stay) cause everything to deconstruct explosively. Sogo Ishii's lunatic black comedy seems less concerned with actual family dynamics than with turning his sitcom household into an open arena of competing pop-culture images and energies. Ishii has a keen eye for cultural detritus—the samurai films and superhero cartoon shows and pornographic comic strips that have bored their way into Japanese consciousness (in much the same manner as crazy dad's termites)—and his film sometimes displays the antinarrative logic of a TV wrestling marathon: it redundantly accumulates rather than develops, with outrage piling upon outrage in baroque profusion (kitchenware samurai mom faces off against Tojo warrior gramps while martial nymphet sis plots against spacehead junior, etc). There's a Woman of the Dunes metaphor lurking about (dad digs a hole in the kitchen floor and everybody falls in, but the house is already an entropic pit) and plenty of cartoon silliness to push the sitcom strategies over the subversive edge. Not, shall we say, the shapeliest of films, but one that packs a raw, energetic punch.


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