85 minutes of Koala-WTF-packed fun and weirdness
12 April 2011
The front of the DVD advertises Executive Koala as being apart of the "Minoru Kawasaki Collection", which made me chuckle twice as, first, I had never heard of him and the DVD assumed he was a director of stature enough to already have a 'collection', and secondly that his collection of films is of the kind of work that makes Japanese entertainment seem as wild and crazy and cute as it is. A sampling of his titles include The Calamari Wrestler, The Rug Cop, and Best Hit! Parade!, and he doesn't seem to be stopping yet, mostly through direct-to-video stuff that Takashi Miike would probably turn down. And with this film he has what is a kind of psycho-Kafka parable with a giant Koala-man fighting for his sanity and justice in a murder case. ... Yeah.

Why a giant Koala? Hey, why the hell not? I love that the director doesn't really explain that there is a giant Koala-Man, nor that his boss is a giant rabbit, nor that there is a small role for a giant Frog who works at a convenience store. Everyone else in the film is human, and with the exception that the Koala is suspected of murdering a girl, and then possibly his ex-wife, or maybe more than that stemming from a childhood of evil, no one takes him being a Koala as not normal. It's just one of those 'things' in Japan, as if the mentality of the Muppets is so straightforward for them, albeit in this case in a dark-comedy-thriller context where the Koala goes insane with red-eyes and KILLS KILLS like a robot.

The film grows to be a big entertainment mostly near the end with a big climactic fight that had me and my friends howling with laughter and cheering. Up until then, it has a curious disposition: it is funny, yes, but it also 'tries' to be funny in some ways that don't work, except maybe in some inside-joke way that Japansese would get and Western audiences would feel out of the loop. But the film has a great charm to it, and knows what it is enough to poke fun at itself (i.e. those flashback scenes the Koala has with his 'romance' stuff), and actually gets oddly dark when the Koala is sent to prison(!) in a fake Alcatraz scenario where he's bullied by everybody else.

Executive Koala is recommendable to certain movie buffs. It's not a movie you tell your mother to watch unless she happens to have an affinity for weird anthropomorphic stories of corporate and psychological horror. But if you're hanging out with friends and want that next rush of crazy-Japanese filmmaking (or for Japan is, um, just another Thursday), it's fun and different. And the Koala-man is actually a good actor! I would credit him but IMDb doesn't provide any names for anyone (perhaps due to it being an anonymity thing, or just because of laziness).
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