Okay…I’ve said it before and it bears repeating.
The Japanese can sure put out a bizarre movie. From the outlandishness of “Crazy Lips” to the sheer creepiness of “Ju-On: The Grudge”, they’ve run the gamut on bizarrity in fiction. Now they’ve decided to up the ante with “The Fuccons”, a tremendously popular short show that premiered on something called “Vermilion Pleasure Night.”
Which is interesting. Let’s remember way back to the depths of the nineties to a little show called “The Simpsons”. They got their start as filler material on “The Tracey Ullman Show,” which didn’t last much longer than a couple years. “The Simpsons,” however, burst out of Tracey Ullman’s second-rate comedy extravaganza to become the longest running series on television. Probably, anyway.
Is “Vermilion Pleasure Night” the Japanese equivalent of “The Tracey Ullman Show?” Will “The Fuccons” be the next “The Simpsons?”
I have no idea.
Stop looking at me like that! Dammit, I don’t know a THING about Japanese television! I asked a friend of mine who lived in Japan for two years if she ever heard of “Vermilion Pleasure Night” and the first words out of her mouth were “That sounds like a love hotel.”
So what we have here is a series of really, really short stories involving mannequins that move to Japan.
Oh boy. Ohhh boy.
The father, James Fuccon, is, as the promotional material describes him, an American businessman transferred to his company’s Japan division. He’s the head of the family, but must keep constant watch lest his son’s mischievous nature and his wife’s gentle reason vote him out. And even better, he’s been cheating on his wife.
The mother, Barbara Fuccon, is “the perfect American housewife”, which means someone got all their source material from way too many hours of old 1950’s sitcoms. She’s a bit of a ditz, but with an occasional vicious streak that’s funny by virtue of its sheer incongruity–picture Donna Reed taking like thirty seconds every other episode to plot firebombing the neighbor’s new Woody or making the annoying paperboy “disappear”, and you’ll get the idea. Barbara is also desperate to make a good impression on the citizenry of Japan, including Mikey’s teacher.
And Mikey Fuccon is a sunny, smiling all-American Beaver Cleaver sort of boy who gets in his share of relatively benign mischief, but seems just a bit befuddled by his new surroundings. He’s got a crush on classmate Emily, but also has to face down the various troubles that seem to spring up on him, including visiting cousins.
And the first thing you’re going to notice when you watch this is just how truly hallucinatory the whole thing is. It’s like what “Leave It To Beaver” must look like to guys who drop a whole lot of acid before they watch it.
It’s comical, in its way. It’s hard to be really funny in two minute bursts, but “The Fuccons” manages to find a way to pull it off. I’m not sure exactly how they pulled it off, but they did. Watching it almost forces you to laugh by sheer virtue of watching it. I know how bizarre that sounds, but I’m not kidding. Watching these two try to convince their son that Japanese kids go to school on Sundays, watching Mikey’s manipulative cousin visit, and any of a dozen other plotlines is just really spectacular.
Bizarre non sequiturs seem to be the order of the day with “The Fuccons.” For no reason at all, characters will be moved into improbable positions, like laying across a table. Mikey will be sent to do the family’s shopping by himself and not allowed to write a list, instead being required for no apparent reason to memorize the list.
The special features include, at least on the disk I got, a whole ream of DVD-ROM specific promotional features.
All in all, I’m taking the high road here and not giving you the obvious pun that “The Fuccons” is indeed a fuccon good time. Say it fast–it works. No, I’m not going that route. Instead, I’m going to tell you that despite its unusual format and hallucinatory subject matter, “The Fuccons” will provide a great many good laughs and just as many “huh?” moments.