The Plot: Kurupt FM is no more. Three years after their pirate radio station was shut down, the DJs are still searching for that elusive scent of success. MC Grindah (Allan Mustafa) carries on with his day job as a postman, while the other lads are in arrested development. When news reaches their former boss Chabuddy G (Asim Chaudhry) that one of their songs has become a hit on a Japanese game show, there’s only one thing to do. Get the gang back together again, head out east to take on Japan and finally bask in the limelight…
The Verdict: Hmm… How to review a feature film that is a continuation of a BBC TV series that this reviewer has no awareness of. Just go in blind, cross the fingers and hope for the best? Or maybe view it as a self-contained film that only really requires the basic logline to engage with its story and characters? Thankfully, it’s more of the latter than the former. The awkwardly-titled People Just Do Nothing: Big In Japan is based on a BAFTA-winning series but it’s easy enough to engage with if you go with the flow of it. It helps that it’s clearly tapping into that Spinal Tap vibe, being a gently absurd mockumentary that follows a group of former DJs famed for playing the same songs repeatedly as they go on the road and create all manner of chaos abroad. There’s also a fish-out-of-water element which contrasts the antics of the shambling British crew who think Japan is a city with their more sophisticated if somewhat bonkers hosts.
As the Kurupt FM lads arrive in Japan to find fortune and glory, they’ll have to learn how to dance to their beats, front a show in front of thousands and appear on a wacky Takeshi’s Castle-style gameshow. It’s safe to say that they’re as unprepared for how disorienting Japanese popular culture is as their hosts are for fish-and-chips British humour. It’s that culture clash which is at the core of this film and gives it a layer of accessibility that it might not otherwise have for a TV series projected onto a larger canvas. Director Jack Clough was a producer on the series and makes his feature debut here. He does a competent enough job to sketch out the characters and where they’re at in their headspace (even if some of them are out of their heads) as they deal with the good, the bad and the ugly of being famous. They have their moment at last, but it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be.
Clough mines the cast for some decent gags throughout, including a running gag about the put-upon Chabuddy G struggling to re-assert his position as band manager for the Bang Boys – rebranded by adoring fans. Watching the lads stumble dazed and confused onto the gameshaw in gimpy motion-capture-style onesies is a highlight. Had this been an American film, it would be flashier in its approach and a lot cruder when it comes to the culture clash. Surprisingly, there’s a sweet touch to this British film about not letting fame get in the way of friendship and good teamwork, along with a sub-plot involving the dim, drug-addled Steves (Steve Stamp) striking a connection with a local translator. It veers too close to being sentimental at times, but there’s an amiable shaggy-dog quality to the story that makes it endearing – even for the uninitiated. It may not go up to to 11 on the music mockumentary scale, but these people are doing something mildly diverting here.
Rating: 3 / 5
Review by Gareth O’Connor
People Just Do Nothing – Big In Japan
People Just Do Nothing: Big In Japan (UK / 15A / 97 mins)
In short: Does something
Directed by Jack Clough.
Starring Allan Mustafa, Asim Chaudhry, Hugo Chegwin, Steve Stamp, Dan Sylvester.