The Happiness of the Katakuris

More crazed output from the fevered mind of Japanese auteur Miike, who directs literally half a dozen features each year. Usually known for his ultraviolent yazuka and horror movies, in which people have a tendency to explode, Miike put himself on the art house map recently with his austere ick-fest Audition, which at least has opened the doors to more of his films reaching American cinemas.

The Happiness of the Katakuris is, like Audition, a stylistic departure for Miike, but that's the only thing the two films have in common.

The Katakuris are a hapless family of six: mom, dad, brother, sister, sister's daughter, and gramps. They decide to open up a bed and breakfast out in the countryside, but what few guests they manage to find have a tendency to die in horrible, disgusting ways.

Did I mention that this film is also a musical? Did I mention that occasionally the actors suddenly transform into claymated figures? Welcome to the world of Takashi Miike. The Happiness of the Katakuris is so lovably weird that you can't really hate it, but it is, I warn you, very, very silly. And not quite as funny as Miike probably intended it to be. Still, the song and dance numbers, which spoof bad Japanese pop videos and karaoke singalongs more than they do Hollywood musicals, are great fun. And as with Miike's other films, in the middle of all the outrageousness, what shocks most are the sudden moments of sweetness and melancholy.