Tennis Pro is a struggling band from Seattle that decides to go to Japan as a last desperate attempt to take their careers off the rail. Directed by John Jeffcoat, who brought us Outsourced (2006), Big in Japan follows these musicians as they stay in capsule hotels, play on the streets and try to make it in Tokyo.
I have to admit, I have a soft spot for this film. Maybe because I also went through a similar experience in Tokyo myself, I went to the same clubs, lived in the same indie neighborhood and hung out with struggling musicians as well. So, just by reading the movie title, I was already curious about where the film would take me, if I was going to reminiscence about the good ol' days in the city.
The soundtrack is very good, Tennis Pro is a band that has catchy lyrics, their sound work well in Asia. The band members are also interesting, even though they are not real actors; they managed to pull it off nicely along with their quirky sense of humor.
By any means, Big in Japan is a movie to be taken seriously. You get a clear feeling when you watch it: this is a movie made by friends and for music lovers. The plot feels loose most of the times, its duration might be longer than it was supposed to and the side characters are not interesting at all. Unfortunately, it feels sometimes that the band is the only thing that keeps the movie together.
You get to see a little bit of Tokyo but mostly the neighborhood Shimokitazawa, where the alternative music scene is alive and always kicking. More than a movie, Big in Japan is a love story about this amazing neighborhood and artists coming together to perform. Luckily, if you enjoy the Tennis Pro, you will expect them to succeed in the Asian music scene and keep watching.
Recently screened at SXSW, I would definitely recommend you all to get the soundtrack of this film over here, it's pretty great.