People Just Do Nothing has enjoyed its fair and hard-earned share of success. Beating Fleabag to a comedy BAFTA cemented the comedy troupe-slash-pirate radio DJs as true forces within the entertainment industry.
But that isn't enough to warrant the leap from TV to a film. After all, we've been inundated with creators justifying their latest reboots, sequels, prequels, spin-offs, adaptations and reimaginings with: 'We wanted to make sure we had the right idea, and not just do it as a shameless cash grab' only to sit down at the cinema and realise... it's just a shameless cash grab.
However, we are more than thrilled to say that People Just Do Nothing: Big in Japan is wholly justified in its existence. The movie brings a new point of view to the same cast of
clowns characters, throwing them in the deep end of life.
The premise of People Just Do Nothing: Big in Japan is surprisingly believable. One of their (two) songs becomes popular on a Japanese game show, and the boys are flown to Tokyo to sign a long-coveted record deal and perform for thousands of their fans.
How the Kurupt FM guys cope in a foreign country, in the face of fame, is what the movie examines in its classic mockumentary style. For those who found the TV show hard to penetrate, People Just Do Nothing: Big in Japan solves that problem.
Because the boys are outsiders, any outsider to the world of garage music and pirate radio fits right in. The judgement from onlookers is less palpably awkward than in the show. Where in Brentford they're looked on with pitiable derision, in Tokyo, MC Grindah, Beats, Decoy and Steves are just as perplexed by everything around them and their bravado is less painful than endearing.
The show charted their struggles – and we use that term with a heavy pinch of salt – to achieve fame because most of the time they were their own totally avoidable roadblocks to getting any sort of notoriety. People Just Do Nothing: Big in Japan removes those roadblocks, and to see each member of Kurupt FM wade through a free and easy road, staring their adulthood and success in the face, was a thrilling watch.
Heading into People Just Do Nothing: Big in Japan, it's hard not to worry about representation and racism. Anti-Asian hate crimes are on the rise, and to take the Kurupt FM guys (who aren't the most culturally nuanced or sensitive bunch) and put them in Japan, it would be easy to see how a route to tasteless comedy could happen.
However, People Just Do Nothing: Big in Japan doesn't fall into stereotypes – not of its stars nor of its surroundings. That Grindah and Beats can't stand the ramen they're eating (though Decoy is seen thoroughly enjoying it) is not an indictment of the food, nor even of them, but rather a realistic look at what happens when you have to adapt, and how some people do or don't.
That they wind up in a McDonald's overlooking a busy Shibuya intersection, thrilled to just be in this place at all, is rather sweet punctuation. We're not advocating for McDonald's takeovers here, but that they could find a place of comfort in a sea of unfamiliarity and rejoice in both of those things at once was a poignant moment, made more powerful by Decoy's questioning: with all the restaurants available, we're really going to go to a McDonald's?
But People Just Do Nothing: Big in Japan is more about the relationships between the guys than their fame, a strange coming-of-age story for a group of lads with deeply earnest 'Peter Pan Syndrome'. We watch Grindah and Beats, best friends, navigate their changing relationship. We watch Steves blossom, and Decoy... well, Decoy is Decoy.
There are a few moments that were so laden with second-hand embarrassment that your writer here actually had to turn her head (but fans of this kind of comedy, anything Eric Andre, Curb Your Enthusiasm, etc) will likely revel in it. Chabuddy G in particular, though often the butt of the joke, is the one making those jokes and his myopic resilience is to be enjoyed and admired.
Whether you loved the show, hated it, or didn't watch it, People Just Do Nothing: Big in Japan is a complete enough story to be worth sitting down for. Fans of the show will find the familiarity they love but enough fresh developments to be intrigued and entertained, and those new to the men behind Kurupt FM will be delighted, slightly shocked, and most certainly entertained.
PS, we also highly recommend Kurupting the Industry: The People Just Do Nothing Story documentary (not mockumentary!) on BBC Three.
People Just Do Nothing: Big in Japan is out now in UK cinemas.
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