“You don’t enjoy things in the moment. That’s a fact.”MC Grindah
Essentially an extended special capping off the brilliantly observed mockumentary series about pirate radio hustlers, Big in Japan follows an entirely predictable blueprint but stays buoyant due to the heartfelt relationships built up between the characters over a number of years. The premise that a Kurupt track has become popular in Japan through a gameshow is a great setup to a special — though perhaps too thin for a standalone film — and the remainder hews closely to the framework laid by Spinal Tap for the mockumentary genre’s message that grasping for fame leads to losing the relationships that made the journey worthwhile. There is plenty of comedy as the boys travel to Tokyo and try to navigate the Japanese music industry. Wisely, the humour is at the characters’ expense (and varying willingness to sell out) rather than making fun of the local culture. In contrast to The Lonely Island’s Popstar — which featured strong songs loosely strung together by a hackneyed plot — Big in Japan is light on music (a running joke is that Kurupt only have two songs), though instead we do see an earnest karaoke rendition of The Streets’ Dry Your Eyes. The emotional beats land because of the bonds built over the show, but that also means the film is unlikely to win many new fans. More is lost in the translation to the big screen than the move to Japan, but it feels churlish to deny such a wonderful ragtag bunch their moment in the limelight.