3.0 out of 5 stars Beanstalk and Shorty
Risa Koizumi is too tall for a girl. Atsushi Otani is too short for a boy. You know the rest. Hijinks ensue.
Well, OK, it may not actually be that simple, but that is pretty much the gist of Love*Com (Which is a shortened form of “Lovely Complex”, which doesn’t have any real meaning besides being bad Japanese-English). Based on a popular shojo manga, this is just a light and fluffy formula-romance comedy pairing two oddballs who are perfect only for each other. The film follows the style of the manga, with sudden flights of anime-inspired fantasy interspersed with reality, and that is its saving grace, and where most of the charm comes in.
Formula films depend a lot on the abilities of their actors to save the day, and the cast of “Love*Com” does OK. Most of them, including the leads, are pretty much inexperienced as actors, but that doesn’t hurt them too much. Model Ema Fujisawa playing Risa is cute in an odd sort of way, and fits the role perfectly. Teppei Koike, a singer and “idol” is a little too cool as Atsushi, and it is hard to buy that he has a hard time finding a girlfriend. The film is absolutely peppered with cameos by popular Japanese comedians, but that probably won’t mean much to too many Americans. Shizuyo Yamazaki (Sayuri from “Hula Girls”) is funny as Risa’s older sister, a giant girl in her own right but who managed to hook herself a man.
The films keeps up a good pace, but then fizzles near the end. A problem with some manga adaptations, they tried to fit too much of the popular story in, and just when things should have been coming to their happy conclusion, a new rival steps in and the film drags. You know what the eventual conclusion is going to be, and if the director had compacted the storyline a bit more, maybe thrown in some subplots with the other characters, it would have been a charming piece of film fluff, good for fans of the manga series and for anyone in the mood for this type of formula flick. As it is….things just go on too long, even at barely over an hour and a half.
For this kind of light comedy, the DVD is actually surprisingly good, with interviews, fake music videos and a parody short film. They did a good job padding out the content, and the US release actually has more bonus materials than the Japanese release.