Starring: Jessie, Daiga Kyomoto, Yugo Kochi
Director: Katsuhide Motoki
Running Time: 104 mins
The Young Ones is a Japanese film about a prison of young criminals who live their lives in rivalry with one another, until an unexpected turn of events causes them to put their differences aside.
I’m all for a big, showy musical any day of the week, but there are limits to my patience and tolerance for the genre at its worst. The Young Ones, while a bold and brash musical throughout, is a film that proves incredibly painful to watch, combining incredibly irritating pop songs with a total lack of story or character depth to make a film that’s little more than a total waste of an hour and a half of your time.
Of course, the first thing to note about this film is that it’s not actually really made to be a good film. While it’d be nice to see it be a genuinely decent watch, The Young Ones is intended instead as a showcase for who I assume are a collection of Japan’s biggest idol music stars. Given I have absolutely no prior knowledge on that, and likely never will have any more, I’ll reserve judgment on the nature of the film’s music and atmosphere, because it may be a properly entertaining watch for fans of the lead stars.
With that said, however, you can’t just throw a bunch of famous people together and expect to call it a decent film, as we learnt for the thousandth time a few years ago with the abhorrent Movie 43. As a result, The Young Ones totally lacks any degree of effort or genuine drama when it comes to its story, and plays out an incredibly dull and mostly pointless plot that’s intended almost entirely to move the characters from one musical number to another.
And that’s the biggest problem with the movie. For all its terrible storytelling and shallow style, the one thing that really got under my skin was the music. Again, I know nothing of Japanese idol music, so I won’t comment on whether the music is any good or not, but from a cinematic perspective, the way the songs are introduced into the film is appallingly jarring, totally disrupting what little flow the story had up to that point.
And not only that, the songs either go on for far too long or no time at all (there are a couple that last no more than 40 seconds or so), and the lyrics rarely have anything to do with what’s going on in the story, or are far too on the nose to even be considered a natural reaction to developing events (eg: a character dies, and the following song opens with the line: ‘So, he’s dead now’).
In short, The Young Ones does everything that a great movie musical doesn’t, with jarring transitions from dialogue to songs and a total disregard for genuine narrative depth and development in exchange for cheesy segues into musical numbers. As a result, I found myself sitting in genuine fear of the arrival of the next song, not the sort of thing that makes for a genuinely entertaining film.
Overall, I really didn’t take to The Young Ones. I understand that its primary function isn’t to be a good film, but a showcase for popstars, but that still doesn’t excuse it from a truly terrible screenplay that features no depth at any point, as well as all of the worst tropes of the movie musical from beginning to end, and that’s why I’m giving it a 4.0.