Original Title: ギャラクシー街道
Genres: Comedy, Science Fiction
Director: Mitani Koki
Director Mitani Koki is a genius when creating comedic films featuring ensemble casts, like 2006’s The Uchoten Hotel and 2008’s The Magic Hour. Galaxy Turnpike sees the director take a dip into the science fiction genre, set in the year 2265.
The story follows married couple Noa (Katori Shingo) and Noe (Ayase Haruka), who run a hamburger shop along the Galaxy Turnpike – a path that connects Earth to the space colony Uzushio. Over the course of a day, they encounter a wide variety of wacky customers from different parts of the galaxy, from a space pimp (Yamamoto Koji) and his client (Ishimaru Kanji), a slimy alien who can sing (Nishikawa Takanori aka TM Revolution), a galactic police officer with a secret identity (Oguri Shun), and more.
As expected from a work of Mitani Koki, the dialog is fun and the situations are over the top. The set of characters which pop in and out of Noa and Noe’s restaurant are probably the craziest ones yet to appear in any of the director’s films. I mean, there is an alien which gets impregnated by physical contact, only to give birth a few hours later to babies who all share their parent’s (adult) face.
Seeing those kinds of crazy characters and situations appear are all what make Mitani Koki’s films so entertaining. However, despite topping the characters from his previous films on the ridiculous scale, the comedy didn’t live up to what came before. That isn’t to say that Galaxy Turnpike wasn’t funny; it’s full of moments bound to make your stomach hurt from giggling.
Maybe the comedy felt watered down because Mitani tried to spread all the jokes and screen time among all the passersby in Noe and Noa’s hamburger shop. At least, in the past there were fewer characters to focus the narrative on.
But the biggest disappointment would have to be the small role by Nishida Toshiyuki, one of Mitani’s frequent collaborators. His role was that of a talking holographic head whom Noa and Noe would communicate with if there were anything on their minds. For fans who have watched him in A Ghost of a Chance, among Mitani’s other films, would agree that he was poorly underutilized; a missed opportunity for free laughs.
Disappointments aside, one thing that deserves praise in Galaxy Turnpike is the world that it creates. There are so many different aliens, each race individually named with male and female genders featured. Though not ever race gets fleshed out and talked about, it’s very fun to imagine a universe with so many bizarre looking creatures.
It’s also fun (and bizarre) to see many females from the different alien races featured in the space pimp’s catalog of escorts.
The aliens are all created with practical effects, striking a sense of nostalgia in us, and giving the story a feel of a stage play of sorts. That all complements the great camerawork that captures the characters delivering their playful dialog.
Overall, Galaxy Turnpike is a worthy addition to Mitani’s library of comedies. Though not as strong as his earlier work, it certainly is far from being a “bad” movie. If anything, fans who aren’t prepared for the craziness that is bound to ensue in a Mitani film will leave the watching experience feeling a bit overwhelmed. As in, asking themselves “What the hell did I just watch?”
While that kind of afterthought can be interpreted as either good or bad, for fans of Mitani’s wacky style comedy, it is the kind of stuff we are expecting.
Watch this film…
…if you want to experience a science fiction comedy that could only be produced in Japan.