Plot: Japan, 1965. The country has started to shift from coal to oil. One by one the old mining towns begin their long slow decline leaving thousands of people out of work. The small mining town of Iwaka is going through a severe economic downturn. The mining company decides to take advantage of the area's natural resource, hot springs and build a first Hawaiian village in Japan to create new jobs for natives and to attract tourists. And what's a Hawaiian Village without a troupe of Hula dancers? So the company hires a dance teacher from Tokyo to make a local teenage girls to be a great hula dancers just in a few months.
It premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 9, 2006
Hula Girls, based on true events, takes place in a small Japanese coal mining town in the late 60s, where its town folks find that with the shifting reliance on oil from coal, the survival of their town is at stake when a major company decides to retrench and cut its headcount.
Hula Girls was critically acclaimed upon release in Japan and nominated for a total of 12 awards at the 2007 Japan Academy Awards, going on to win five major awards, including that of best film, best director, best screenplay, best supporting actress (Aoi Yū), and most popular film.
It also won best film and supporting actress award (Aoi Yū) at the 80th Kinema Junpō awards, held on January 9, 2007. At the 61st Mainichi Film Awards, held on January 19, 2007, it won the awards for best supporting actress (Aoi Yū) and best film. At the 49th Blue Ribbon Awards, it won the awards for best film, best actress (Aoi Yū) and best supporting actress (Fuji Sumiko).
The movie was also chosen for Japan's entry for the 79th Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
«By no means is Hula Girls mind-blowing or even all that original. It relies on age-old formulas and traditional emotion-manipulation strategies to please audiences, but at least it does so with likeable characters, strong performances (especially from Yu Aoi in a spirited award-winning performance), and a script that has its heart in the right place.»
«“Hula Girls” has more charm than one can shake their tail feathers at and more mileage than one might expect from another story of underdogs railing against the establishment. ... It earns its emotional output and goodwill with its characters.»
«Hula Girls provides a good family entertainment piece that will likely play well for all types of moviegoers. Although the film doesn’t equal the rip roaring hilarious moments of the Swing Girls or the heart warming moments of say Like A Virgin, Hula Girls certainly provided for a well paced comedy/drama, that has the potential to touch the hearts of many people. »
«It's not without its flaws, like when certain transitions seemed to suffer from lack of time devoted to provide more depth, but when the formula comes to the end, with its rousing, highly anticipated finale showed in its entirety and in full regalia, you'll no doubt be giving full of applause for its showmanship.»
«Despite some gritty elements — including domestic violence, mining accidents and serious discussions about sexual mores — the film is an encyclopedia of clichés. ... You’ve seen this film many times. It always works. »
«Despite being based on trueevents it feels entirely formulaic with even the most casual cinemagoer likelyto be one step ahead of every twist and turn in the plot. The comedy is verybroad, the sentiment is shameless and the charm is thinly spread over anexcessive running time.»
«Holistically, what makes Hula Girls an enjoyable experience is its native artform. Shot in deliberate sepia tones across the board for an aged photograph feel, its not a bright and boisterous film - until these bright reds and yellows slowly slink into the image. »
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