Starring: Suzu Hirose, Ayami Nakajô, Yûki Amami
Director: Hayato Kawai
Running Time: 121 mins
Let’s Go, JETS! From Small Town Girls To US Champions? is a Japanese film about a group of high school girls who join up to their school’s cheerleading team, only to be met with a strict and determined coach that pushes them to break out of their local and national heats to become champions by beating the legendary US team.
Japanese school girls training to win an international cheerleading contest… This doesn’t sound anything like my cup of tea. However, I’m delighted to report that this film is absolutely brilliant fun, with an poppy and energetic vibe running from start to finish, hugely entertaining dance sequences, and a collection of likable main characters that make supporting the cheer troop on their trials to become US champions.
There’s a lot to love about this film, but one thing that really surprised me was just how enjoyable the huge range of characters were. The film is very reminiscent of numerous other Japanese films where underdog school students go to compete in some obscure sport (Waterboys, Swing Girls, Oppai Volleyball etc.), but what really works well about Let’s Go, JETS! is the fact that all of the characters are well-established throughout, and have likable and consistent personalities, all of which makes following their journey to cheerleading glory a huge amount of fun.
There’s a plethora of different personalities at play in the film, but they all gel brilliantly together to make a diverse and interesting team. In the lead role, Suzu Hirose is a fantastically likable and positive character, who plays well alongside a collection of others with varying levels of determination or competitiveness. Ayami Nakajo and Hirona Yamazaki are two girls who contrast Hirose’s optimism excellently, and despite their friendly onscreen relationship, the various characters contrast each other well enough that you have a genuinely interesting and engaging conflict that bubbles throughout the whole movie.
As a result, this is actually quite a bit more than a generic underdog sports movie. Compared to Bring It On, another cheerleading film, Lets Go, JETS! manages to place more emphasis on the characters involved in the road to cheer glory than simply whether they win or lose. Of course, that plays a part too, but where Bring It On failed to be entertaining or engrossing until its sports finale, this film manages to prove interesting and enjoyable from start to finish, a rare success for this genre.
But don’t think that this is some big character study, because it’s not. As entertaining and interesting as the characters in this film are, the main objective is definitely for you to laugh and have fun, and the film manages that very well too.
Although it’s not the sort of comedy that will have you laughing your socks off at every moment, the collection of personas involved in the cheer squad make for some great gags throughout, whilst the fantastic self-deprecation of the film’s setting in relatively rural Japan is a source for hilarious comedy from start to finish.
On the whole, however, the reason that this film is so entertaining is because of how upbeat it is. Not placing too much importance on whether the team wins or loses, nor being too heavy-handed on delving deep into the characters, it’s a bright, fast-paced and hugely enjoyable watch at every moment. Whether we’re watching a couple of students chatting before practice or a major cheerleading routine complete with all the dazzling aspects you can think of, this film is always full of joy and light that will easily give you two hours of huge fun, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.6 overall.