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All About Our House
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The Asian ApertureAll About Our House
POSTED BY JASON FETTERS, December 18, 2011    Share

Just how far is a young couple willing to go to get their very own dream house? That is the question that is answered in All About Our House, a 2001 comedy by director Koki Mitani. Annoyed at living in a cramp Japanese apartment, wife, Tamiko Iijima watched her stressed out husband, Naosuke, as he tries to write a script for a hit TV series called, Nutty Apartment. Between calls with his boss, Naosuke is clearly not happy and would really love to live in a home with a nice, large study so he can work effectively. His wife agrees and so the couple set out to build their perfect house. It seems like an easy answer.

After finding some land in the country, far from the cramped crowded living conditions that Tokyo is known for, Naosuke and Tamiko find plenty of land. With that problem out of the way, Tamiko asks her college friend, Yanagisawa, a successful interior designer, to draw up the blueprints. Yanagisawa was schooled in the US and is sold on the idea of doing everything in the Modern style. He presents his plans to the husband and wife who are thrilled at the modern design. The next problem is that since Yanagisawa is not a real architect, he cannot get permits. That is when Tamiko’s father, Chouichirou, who is a contractor, comes on board to help out. Chouichirou is a carpenter who believes in the traditional approach. When Yanagisawa and Chouichirou meet, there is nothing but problems. Neither men will budge in their stubborn opinions and get into countless arguments and physical fights. The wimpy Naosuke tries to act as a buffer to get the two men to work together to no avail. It is only the strong willed Tamiko who is not afraid to fight her father in favor of Yanagisawa’s vision. Finally both men are forced to compromise and the actual building can start.

A lot of the humor in All About Our House is obviously seen in the conflict between the modern and the traditional. Sometimes one side wins out against the other. It is also a battle of wills and Americanism vs Japaneseism and which is the better way. When Naoskue orders Yanagisawa to accept compromise and gives him a week to get his act together, this forces Yanagisawa to became less rigid and to alter and tweak his grand vision that he feels is being corrupted by Chouichirou. Chouichirou is great at rallying his men behind him and refusing to back down from the young hotshot, Yanagisawa. Yanagisawa is not afraid of this and to get the color of paint that he wants, shows up at night, when no one else is around, and throw a can of paint violently against a wall. One of the messages that is worth mentioning is the conflict between a Japanese who studies aboard and learns something useful in the West and returns home to use those ideas in Japan run up against the Japanese way, that has been around for centuries and would seem old fashioned to someone who has lived overseas. It is only when Western ideas and Japanese ideas can work together that conflict is resolved. During All About Our House, both Yanagisawa and Chouichirou learn the value of each other, and although they still clash, come to a certain respect for each other’s’ very different talents. They do manage to work together for a common goal.

All About Our House is a family comedy that has some interesting dramatic moments. My only problem with it, is that it is a formalistic movie. The viewer knows there will be problems and the viewer knows that they young couple will get their house built. This makes for a simple plot. The movie doesn’t really go anywhere until the last half when battles between modern vs traditional and east and west reach a point where there is no turning back, then the story moves forward. Some of the discussions between Yanagisawa and Chouichirou, once they respect each other, are rich in dialogue and philosophical discourse. If only the first half was a good as the second. Then All About Our House would be a great movie instead of just being good. Still, All About Our House has enough good moments to entertain and is watchable.

3 out of 5 Stars.

"The Asian Aperture" is ©2011 by Jason Fetters. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2011 by Nolan B. Canova.

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