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Ron Howard's culture-clash comedy stars Michael Keaton as a go-between for American auto workers and their Japanese factory owners.
Its tone swings violently from pratfall to preachment, from an indictment of featherbed laziness to an extended beer-commercial celebration of the mythical American worker.
It's more cheerful than funny, and so insistently ungrudging about Americans and Japanese alike that its satire cuts like a wet sponge.
Delivers plenty of laughs and cross-cultural insights in this drama about the contrast between American and Japanese attitudes toward work.
Drawn from real life, the conflict between cultures is good for both a laugh and a sober thought along the way.
A disappointment, a movie in which the Japanese are mostly used for the mechanical requirements of the plot, and the Americans are constructed from durable but boring stereotypes.
Howard appears to have learnt surprisingly little about comic timing during his long tenure on Happy Days, leaving his star with little to do but force an inane grin and hope for the best.
The hero, though funny, is ultimately unsympathetic, securing through his cosy pacts nobody's position but his own, while the upbeat ending justifies strike-breaking. With comrades like this, who needs class enemies?
Keaton is lovable, as usual, but he comes across as a dumb jerk. This was an obvious attempt at 1930s-type social comedy. Social it may have been; comedic it wasn't.
The stereotypes are too broad for comfort, despite some funny moments.
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