White on Rice

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White on Rice

Jimmy (Watanabe), an unemployed Japanese manchild and floundering divorc, moves to suburban America to live with his accommodating sister (Nae), her quietly exasperated husband (Takada) and their ten-year-old son, a secret piano prodigy named Bob (Kwong). Imagine Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s somber art-house drama Tokyo Sonata if invaded by Napoleon Dynamite, though Jimmy is arguably more alienating and artificially quirky than that cult comedy’s cringeworthy hero. To wit: He’s 40 and still loves dinosaurs, sleeps in a bunk bed, pisses off every woman he talks to and prides himself on having once worked as a samurai-flick bit player. Is anyone else laughing?

Jimmy’s boneheaded antics—setting the kitchen ablaze, accidentally ditching his young nephew on Halloween—might’ve actually seemed endearing if writer-director Dave Boyle hadn’t made his flawed, allegedly lovable character such a selfish mutant. And Watanabe’s performance sucks any remaining sweetness right out of this fish-out-of-water comedy; you’re ready to call the police once he starts stalking his hot cousin (Chen). Granted, Boyle may be a competent director, but he’s missed the mark by not focusing on anybody with real heart: the father and his son, the cousin and her beau—basically, every person here who isn’t a cretinous, developmentally arrested creep.—Aaron Hillis

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