‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse—which is poetic except for the fact that the protagonists for this flick are a trio of homeless bums. It’s Christmas, and what better gift to bless the holiday than a newborn baby in the trash? Our lovable hobos can’t take care of an infant, not exactly able to take care of themselves, so they set out in search of the baby’s parents with the items left with her their only clues for leading them in the right direction.
Our Fair Heroes:
The protagonists of this film are a motley bunch. You’ve got an alcoholic, a teenage runaway, and a transgender woman. Hardly applicable of the moniker heroes, but that’s exactly the point. Forget messiahs who come along and make the world a better place. Our three stooges barely get along at the best of times. They’re rude, crude, and crass but also charming like an alpaca choking on its own saliva, and you can’t fault them for their faults that landed them bunking together under a tarp because they’re so relatable.
The Kon Touch:
Of all of Satoshi Kon’s films, this is by far his most standard. The man’s known for narratives that enjoy a good tap dance between reality and fiction, and despite this being his most straightforward film, he still leaves his thumbprint on how he messes with the audience. It’s nothing quite so contorted as his usual mindtwists, his most Kon scene being a dream of the runaway right before she ran away, but he sets the main plot on the left foot, and the time you’ve blinked one hundred times, it’ll switch feet and say, “Actually, I’ve been standing on my right foot this entire time. I’ve just been holding up this mirror. A lovely mirror, isn’t it?”
My favorite thing about this film has to be how laid-back it is. Where most films argue that every scene needs to be some small piece of a larger plot, Tokyo Godfathers spits in the face of that and does what it wants when it wants how it wants. If it wants to crash an ambulance into a convenience store to make an out-of-nowhere joke, it’ll do that. This film just doesn’t care, and I love it for that.
As much merit as Kon’s films have, they struggle to suck me in. They’re good, but Tokyo Godfathers is the only one that’s sucked me in. It’s fun, it’s touching, sympathetic to a good spectrum of demographics, and it lays down its foundation so that when it raises its hands in the air like it just don’t care, you can only giggle and go, “Oh, Tokyo Godfathers.” I wish there were more films and literature that could be just as carefree but still have the common decency to be enjoyable.