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Film review: What a Wonderful Family! 2 – Yoji Yamada comedy gets a lean and equally amusing sequel

Pigheaded patriarch Shuzo Hirata once again finds himself the centre of attention in this playful film set almost entirely behind the closed doors of the family home

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 June, 2017, 5:31pm
UPDATED : Friday, 09 June, 2017, 5:31pm

3/5 stars

Following the success of last year’s What a Wonderful Family!, veteran Japanese filmmaker Yoji Yamada reunites the Hirata clan for a second round of family misfortunes.

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This time round, eldest son Konosuke (Masahiko Nishimura) is determined to persuade his ageing father Shuzo (Isao Hashizume) to give up driving after a series of recent scrapes indicate that his competence behind the wheel might be slipping. Unsurprisingly, Shuzo refuses, leading to another family crisis as they scramble to elect somebody willing to stand up to their pigheaded patriarch.

While the first film explored a number of different storylines following various members of the family, Yamada’s lean sequel recognises the strength of pitting Shuzo against the rest of his household, and runs with this single thread for much of the film.

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That said, Shuzo does manage to complicate matters further. When his wife, Tomiko (Kazuko Yoshiyuki), heads off on a vacation without him, Shuzo continues his pursuit of an attractive bar owner, Kayo (Jun Fubuki). He also crosses paths with a long-lost former classmate (Nenji Kobayashi), triggering a string of events that fuel the film’s fatal and farcical climax.

Keeping the all-star cast of the original, Yamada delivers more of the same amusing theatricality that made the first film an unexpected delight. Taking place almost entirely behind the closed doors of the Hiratas’ suburban home, the interactions between three generations playfully expose the changing values and behaviours within contemporary Japanese society.

What a Wonderful Family! 2 opens on June 15

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