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Film review: Galaxy Turnpike – Koki Mitani hits rock bottom with sluggish sci-fi comedy

Turgid tale of a space diner suffering after being bypassed by an interstellar highway fails to amuse

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 March, 2016, 8:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 March, 2016, 8:00am

1/5 star

A disparate group of loners, dreamers and extraterrestrials congregate at a restaurant to contemplate their fate in Japanese filmmaker Koki Mitani’s feeble, sluggish comedy. Renowned for his wryly scripted comedies and overtly theatrical style, the self-confessed luddite has won widespread acclaim for films such as Welcome Back, Mr McDonald (1997), The Magic Hour (2008) and The Kiyosu Conference (2013), but recent efforts have proved less successful.

Galaxy Turnpike, an attempt at science fiction, focuses entirely on the staff and customers who frequent the Sand Sand 33 Burger Bar, a dead-end joint off the titular causeway, somewhere between Jupiter and Saturn. The construction of a new interstellar highway has seen traffic and business nosedive, and the restaurant’s manager (Shingo Katori) now wants to return to earth. Before that, he’ll have to break the news to his wife (Haruka Ayase), who’s facing anxieties of her own.

Mitani employs his regular repertory troupe as a procession of ex-lovers, disgruntled co-workers and quirky customers, but the film proves frustratingly humourless and stagnant from the get-go.

Playing out like the worst possible episode of Red Dwarf, not even the continual procession of slimy aliens, egg-laying geriatrics, hallucinating diners or managerial holograms will entice patrons to stop at this woefully unrewarding establishment.

Galaxy Turnpike opens on March 31

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