Brittany Murphy, Toshiyuki Nishida, Sohee Park, Tammy Blanchard
Maezumi: I know the problem! Your forehead is too small! A small forehead means a small brain. Like a monkey!
After moving from the United States to Tokyo, Abby (Murphy) is dumped by her boyfriend, but she doesn’t want to just go back home. Instead, she wedges herself into the lives of an older Japanese couple who run a small Ramen restaurant. Abby wants Maezumi (Nishida) to teach her how to be a Ramen chef. Maezumi is reluctant for personal and cultural reasons.
First of all, I’d like to ask anyone who enjoyed this movie to please stop reading this review now and maybe go find another of my movie reviews to read, okay?
Alright, now that those people are gone, I can talk about how gosh awful this movie is. The story is basically Lost In Translation meets Karate Kid. But, ya know, without any of the stuff that made those movies watchable.
Brittany Murphy has been good, occasionally, in the past, but she is a big ball of annoyance here. Her raspy voice makes it sound like it’s an effort to muscle any noise out at all every time she speaks. Though, she does end up getting plenty out, unfortunately. All she does is whine, cry, yell, whine, yell, stare wide-eyed, cry, say “I don’t understand”, stare some more, and whine. Plus, the over-dyed blond hair and caked on makeup is not helping. Who thought this was a good look for her?
So, let’s see, she’s hard to listen to and hard to look at. That’s just the kind of heroine every movie needs. I guess they were going for a stereotype, but that doesn’t make it okay.
Moving on, if you’ll notice the title of the movie, it’s The Ramen Girl. Ramen, right there in the title. Yet, the movie barely even makes an attempt to tell us anything about how Ramen is made, why it’s difficult to do, or why people find joy or meaning in its preparation. I know there are noodles involved…and some meat. Oh, and apparently it helps if you cry into it while making it.
Abby and Maezumi spend most of the movie trying to communicate with each other, mostly through yelling, but since Abby never really learns Japanese, they never understand more than a few words here and there. Yes, she’s there for almost a year and never learns much more than “yes”, “no”, “thank you”, etc. I guess that’s a typical American for ya.
The communication barrier is a major factor in why the movie doesn’t work. Once Abby breaks down Maezumi’s wall of resistance to the idea of being her teacher, you’d think we’d see him imparting wisdom and teaching her how to do everything. Since they can’t even talk to each other, we see none of that. Abby just says at one point (to the audience I suppose, since nobody in the movie can understand her) that she’s done everything the same way Maezumi did it. We’re just left to assume that’s true.
Oh, there’s also a romance. Sort of. There’s a guy, who has a name I’m sure, that likes Abby for seemingly no reason other than the fact that she’s a blond American girl who will smoke a cigarette with him. The final romantic scene with them is comedic in how poorly done it is. Also, Tammy Blanchard is in this. I liked her a lot in Bella, but this is the second bad movie I’ve seen her in with Brittany Murphy. She needs to hitch her wagon to a different star.
Have I said enough? I’ll sum up. It’s boring, annoying, rarely funny, not romantic, not inspiring, and even somewhat insulting at times. But hey, at least Abby was eaten by squirrels in the end!
Okay, I made that last part up, but I’m just going to pretend there’s a director’s cut of the movie out there somewhere that features that much more appropriate ending.
Americans are jerks, but Japanese people still love them…?
10 – 2 for Abby being annoying to listen to and look at – 2 for lack of anything interesting or inspiring in the plot – 2 for trying to be funny and romantic but failing a majority of the time = 4.0