Waterboys (2001)

waterboys

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This Japanese film revolving around the usual women’s sport of synchronized swimming takes a hilarious gender bending turn as the protagonists are male high school students.

Suzuki is a high schooler determined to make the swimming team at Tadano High. The only problem is that he is the only swimmer on the team. That all changes when Mrs. Sakuma offers the other boys to join the swimming team. Many boys want to try out until they learn that Sakuma wants to coach synchronized swimming. When that is discovered, only Suzuki and four others are left. They are the rebellious Sato, the very upbeat and wannabe active Ota, the brain Kanazawa, and the very effeminate Saotome.

When Sakuma is revealed to be pregnant, she must take a maternity leave and leaves the boys without a coach. When the boys’ attempt at practice goes awry, they are forced out of the pool by their adviser, Mr. Sugita. However, when Suzuki notices Sugita’s friend Isomura as a dolphin trainer, he asks Isomura to coach them. Isomura has other plans until a revelation at an arcade in a last ditch effort changes his mind. The boys soon begin to train hard when they are to perform at the annual Tadano High School festival the week after school starts. Will they be able to impress their peers and more importantly, the girls of their neighboring school?

From the mind of Shinobu Yaguchi comes one of the funniest comedies to come from Japan. The film revolves around the sport of synchronized swimming and how high school boys overcome all their differences to persevere. What is great is that each of the main “Waterboys” have their own personalities. Suzuki is the leader who just years for acceptance. Ota is an exercise fanatic as seen in a very funny yet creepy scene where he has nothing but a pair of red speedos while working out. Sato is the rebellious one, starting with sporting an afro until a very funny accident occurs. Kanazawa is the brains who learns to swim as the film progresses. Finally, we have the very effeminate Saotome, who seems to have eyes for Suzuki, or does he? The actors in their roles are just fun to watch, especially Sato, Ota, and Saotome.

Naoto Takenaka is absolutely hilarious as Isomura, who never intended to coach the team but makes them go through hard labor. However, when they convince him to teach them about rhythm, he tries to ditch them and not only fails but is shocked at what he sees. His reaction to this turning point is perhaps one of the funniest reactions to an event seen on film. Aya Hirayama brings a little more comic relief as a girl at the neighboring school who has a bit of a crush on Suzuki and tends to overreact to things at times.

It has to be mentioned that the event the boys have been waiting for is perhaps the biggest highlight and brings to mind, some of the most hysterical scenes of the entire film. You will definitely root for these Waterboys, even if their road to success doesn’t always go as planned.

WFG RATING: A

Fuji Television Network Ltd. presents an Altamira Pictures production in association with Dentsu. Director: Shinobu Yaguchi. Producers: Yoshino Sasaki, Daisuke Sekiguchi, and Akifumi Takuma. Writers: Shinobu Yaguchi and Yasushi Fukuda. Cinematography: Yuichi Nagata. Editing: Ryuji Miyajima.

Cast: Satoshi Tsumabuki, Hiroshi Tamaki, Akifumi Miura, Koen Kondo, Takatoshi Kaneko, Aya Hirayama, Kaori Manabe, Naoto Takenaka, Tetta Sugimoto.

 

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