Starring: Satoshi Tsumabaki, Hiroshi Tamaki, Akifumi Miura
Director: Shinobu Yaguchi
Running Time: 91 mins
Waterboys is a Japanese film about a group of teenage boys who decide to join up to the synchronised swimming team, run by the school’s only female teacher. However, they soon become invested in a desire to show that they can make a routine work, aiming to show off their skills at the school’s upcoming festival.
Having only seen the frankly irritating Swing Girls from Shinobu Yaguchi before, I was a little hesitant going into Waterboys, expecting the same sort of brash and annoying teen affair. And whilst that’s not entirely invisible in the film, I’m glad to say that this is a far more entertaining and pleasant watch. With strong performances across the board, a fun story, and some good laughs along the way, Waterboys is that perfect turn-your-brain-off sports comedy.
Let’s start with the best part of the film, which is surprisingly the story. Yes, it’s a sports movie, so the formula is pretty predictable, but rather than being a win-or-lose outcome, the sports story ties in more with the characters’ development throughout the whole movie. So, whilst it’s fun to watch the team get better at synchronised swimming, the plot is far more interesting than you’d expect, as the outcome is a part of the characters’ story, and not just your generic sports final.
Another bonus of the film is that it’s pretty funny. I wasn’t laughing my socks off from beginning to end, but there are a few really good laughs here and there than come from some really silly humour. I didn’t expect it all to work out as well as was the case, but the chemistry between the leads meant their laughable attempts to get on the new teacher’s good side, and then actually try to become good at synchronised swimming, was all the more entertaining to watch.
Those lead performances are another plus here. Whilst I can’t say that any of the characters are the most well-rounded or fascinating ever seen on the big screen, I can say that I enjoyed watching the five lead actors mess around together. They’ve got a great sense of camaraderie throughout the movie, and when coupled with their individual strengths for comedy, they really helped to make the film a good laugh.
Of course, Waterboys isn’t a perfect film. Like I said, the story isn’t the most original, and the characters aren’t always the most likable. The film’s first act is particularly irritating, something that I feared would set up for the same sort of film as Swing Girls.
However, Yaguchi sorts everything out well by the time we get into the middle portion, and makes for a light-hearted, entertaining and even surprisingly interesting watch, which is why I’m giving Waterboys a 7.3 overall.