Film review: Let’s Go, Jets! – Suzu Hirose shines in Japanese high-school cheerleading comedy
Director Hayato Kawai’s engaging coming-of-age story about a group of misfits training for a world championship allows its women stars to shine
Anchored by an energetic central performance from 18-year-old Suzu Hirose, Let’s Go, Jets! repackages the well-worn sports drama into an engaging coming-of-age tale about competitive cheerleading at a remote Japanese high school.
Hirose first found fame as the titular sibling in Hirokazu Koreeda’s Our Little Sister , holding her own against established stars such as Haruka Ayase and Masami Nagasawa. In Let’s Go, Jets! From Small Town Girls to U.S. Champions?! – to give the film its full title – the young actress takes centre stage as Hikari, the driving force behind Fukui Chuo High School’s unlikely squad of misfits.
With no prior experience, Hikari enrols in the squad to cheer on her soccer star boyfriend (Kentaro), only to discover boys are off-limits under the officious regime of coach Ms Saotome (Yuki Amami). But under the shared mantra “Cheerful, Natural, Beautiful”, Hikari and her equally unqualified teammates learn the importance of discipline and cooperation, as they vie for a spot at the world championships in Los Angeles.
Japan leads the film world in providing substantial screen roles for women of all ages, and Let’s Go, Jets! is a perfect example. Hikari, her teammates (including Ayami Nakajo and Hirona Yamazaki) and coach are all given their own dramatic arcs and subplots, while male characters are relegated to the sidelines, to serve merely as, well, cheerleaders for the girls.
With the exception of some risible English-language commentators at the climactic championship, Let’s Go, Jets! tells its wholly predictable tale of teamwork and acceptance with dedication and undeniable charm, earning laughs – and even a few tears – along the way.
Let’s Go, Jets! opens on June 15
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