I’m sure Japanese pop culture doesn’t fully deserve its stateside reputation of being bizarre almost to the point of obscenity. I mean, obviously it can’t all be sadistic game shows, Hello Kitty underpants and tentacle porn. Some of the most thoughtful pieces of cinema I’ve ever seen came out of
But then I see something like Executive Koala and I’m right back to wondering what the hell is the matter with those folks. At first blush, this looks like a by-the-numbers psychological thriller, as a milquetoast businessman uncovers repressed memories of a sordid past that may include robbery, spousal abuse and even… MURDER! It’s the same type of hackneyed plotline we’ve seen in a dozen mediocre movies starring Michael Douglas/Richard Gere/Harrison Ford, but with one fairly noteworthy twist: the executive is a six-foot-tall, Japanese-speaking koala in a business suit.
If you’re familiar with director Minoru Kawasaki, that bit of bestial stunt-casting probably won’t catch you off guard. This is, after all, a man whose body of work includes films about a crime-fighting hairpiece and a squid who aspires to be a professional wrestler. I came into Executive Koala with only a cursory knowledge of
Early on, Executive Koala plays things pretty much by the book, following the koala through the mundanities of life at a thriving pickled foods company. The protagonist’s marsupial nature is treated as no big deal, even though the rest of the film’s populace is almost exclusively human. The only exceptions are the koala’s rabbit-headed boss and the frog-man behind the counter at the local grocery store. As the movie proceeds along familiar thriller lines, no explanation is offered as to why these freaks live and work among regular folk. Strange as all that seems, I spent much of the film’s first half disappointed that Executive Koala wasn’t weird enough.
Around about the midway point, however,
It’s tough to imagine anything as peculiar as Executive Koala coming out of the
Those Japanese are fuckin’ weird, man…
- Ira Brooker