People Just Do Nothing: Big In Japan fails to deliver on its eastern promise

Damon Smith

People Just Do Nothing: Big In Japan: Dan Sylvester as Decoy, Hugo Chegwin as DJ Beats, Steve Stamp as Steves, Allan Mustafa as MC Grindah and Asim Chaudhry as Chabuddy G

PEOPLE JUST DO NOTHING: BIG IN JAPAN (15, 97 mins) Comedy/Romance. Allan Mustafa, Hugo Chegwin, Dan Sylvester, Steve Stamp, Asim Chaudhry, Ken Yamamura, Lily Brazier, Hitomi Souno, Director: Jack Clough.

Released: August 20

AWARD-winning BBC mockumentary People Just Do Nothing, which chronicles the misadventures of Middlesex-based pirate radio station Kurupt FM, heads east on the big screen but almost goes south with a hit-and-miss script that feels like a cover version of funnier and smarter portraits of the cut-throat music industry.

"Brentford, Ipswich and now Japan!" summarises DJ Beats (Hugo Chegwin), tracking the group's haphazard road to success in one of his to-camera interviews.

This Is Spinal Tap and Anvil! The Story Of Anvil are clear references points for Jack Clough's likeable culture clash comedy, which transplants the deluded UK garage crew to foreign climes to confront cultural stereotypes in mildly toe-curling fashion.

An evening meal of freshly prepared ramen topped with a soft-boiled brown egg soaked in soy sauce and mirin is quickly dismissed in favour of American fast food chain burgers overlooking the busy Shibuya pedestrian crossings. When emotions run high, a karaoke bar becomes a predictable backdrop to apologies and reconciliations.

The flimsy plot sings to the same tune as Dreamgirls, creating friction through a scheming record executive, who intends to promote the group's strongest personality to lead singer and relegate disgruntled, ego-bruised bandmates to the blurred background.

A script credited predominantly to the main cast fails to top the charts with belly laughs and overextends a sweet romantic subplot for drug-addled DJ Steves (Steve Stamp).

The two creative dynamos of Kurupt FM have reluctantly surrendered lofty musical ambitions to the daily grind of paying jobs. MC Grindah (Allan Mustafa) is a postman while DJ Beats (Chegwin) works on reception in a ten-pin bowling alley.

Dan Sylvester as Decoy, Steve Stamp as Steves, Allan Mustafa as MC Grindah, Hugo Chegwin as DJ Beats and Sadao Ueda as dance instructor Hiroto

Out of the blue, a madcap Japanese game show samples one of the group's tracks, Heart Monitor Riddem, to accompany footage of contestants wiping out on an obstacle course.

Kurupt FM is invited to Tokyo to capitalise on this unexpected brush with celebrity.

"You'll be delivering your own royalty cheques to yourself soon," gushes the band's hapless manager, Chabuddy G (Asim Chaudhry), to MC Grindah.

The whole crew including MC Grindah, DJ Beats, DJ Steves, Chabuddy G and Decoy (Dan Sylvester) flies to the Japanese capital, where slick A&R man Taka (Ken Yamamura) takes charge.

Cracks appear when Taka forcefully suggests a name change from Kurupt FM to Bang Boys to appeal to the local market. MC Grindah dances to Kata's tune but the rest of the group loudly voice their opposition.

People Just Do Nothing: Big In Japan is a classic underdog story that encourages us to root for Kurupt FM as the twin furies of fame and fortune weaken fraternal bonds.

Fish-out-of-water vignettes, like Chabuddy G trying on a suit several sizes too small, repeatedly miss the mark by that narrow margin which separates a smile from a full-throated guffaw.

This is not Spinal Tap.


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