So-Bad Sunday -- Shaolin Grandma

You better run, cause Gran's gonna git you!

Today's So-Bad Sunday is the 2008 movie Shaolin Grandma, the story of an old lady who was raised by a Shaolin monk after World War II to become a badass Shaolin monk of her own and the head of her own dojo. I'm not really sure how she got from Manchuria to Japan where the story takes place, but that is neither here nor there, as you will soon see.

The story starts when a mailman discovers our old lady, Miyoko, dead on the floor of her little apartment. He calls the police and while waiting with her body discovers a series of autobiographical scrolls in which Miyoko describes her life. The story is told in flashbacks and explains how Miyoko was displaced as head of her temple by a dude with an afro and a younger chic with crazy legs. Miyoko and two of her disciples wander into the city and start working for an American who owns an anything goes kind of bar, where Miyoko earns her living dancing sexily and by sexily, I mean she does a lot of hip thrusting and boob fondling, which is totally not sexy for a 70 year old, but is probably the whole point.

Miyoko's disciples leave her when she refuses to stand up for them, and she goes and lives as a homeless lady in a park. One day, this old dude, Toko, invites her to play gate-ball (which looks just like croquet to me). She falls in love with him, but there is an opponent in her way. Miyoko develops a flaming gate-ball technique and burns the sh*t out of that other old b*tch,who really is kind of a jerk, and then she and Toko proceed to do it like animals, a lot, and by a lot, I mean they do it a lot and it is illustrated. I get the feeling old people really like to do it.

One day Toko asks Miyoko to marry him. Miyoko realizes she needs to beat the crazy legs lady and get her dojo back before she can marry Toko. Miyoko does a lot of training in the mountains (or somewhere naturey and rainy). She further develops her gate-ball technique, seeks out the big meanie who stole her dojo. She takes it back, gets married, then gives the dojo back to crazy legs. As for Toko, he turns out to be a womanizer and starts beating Miyoko. I know, she's a Shaolin monk, right? But, I guess she doesn't fight back.

They get divorced, but Miyoko is happy. She has a cat. Her life is great, and she will die alone.

The mailman finishes the scrolls. Miyoko suddenly reanimates and breaks his neck.

The end.

Now you will never have to watch this wretched movie. This is my gift to you!

And, if you want to give me a present, a plate of these cute donuts would be cool.

Shaolin Grandma is supposed to be a parody of recent Shaolin movies like Shaolin Soccer and Shaolin Girl. It's kind of the Japanese version of Airplane, Hot Shots or The Naked Gun. That's Scary Movie or Not Another Teen Movie for you younger Dear Readers. These films take the themes and tropes of "serious" films in a specific genre as their source material.

I never liked these kinds of parodies. Oh, I'm all about being "meta" and self referencing and all that hipster sh*t people like me like to do. We're down with making fun of things.Oh, wait, am I too old to be a hipster? Right, aging hipsters like me, you know, people who are still brave enough to walk into Urban Outfitters, but are starting to question the appropriateness of the clothing sold there...

But, I was talking about parodies and Shaolin Grandma. Okay. These are the kinds of films are very high context (to steal a phrase from my college communication courses), in that they assume the audience has a reference point for the jokes. The parody shows this and expects you'll know it is referring to that and laughing along.

There is nothing inherently wrong with this type of humor, and I think that it's probably even more present in Japanese than American comedy because of the culture's tendency to have more in-group understanding. I just find these kinds of parodies boring and devastatingly unoriginal.

You know what would be great? A movie about a Shaolin Grandma, a comedy even, that wasn't making such obvious, heavy handed and awkward nods to the films it was stealing from. In fact, it wouldn't need to steal from those films because it would be its own film, savvy enough for an audience that already got it, and strong enough to stand on its own. But, this was not that movie. And, that, Dear Readers, is why we have So-Bad Sunday.

So, I'll leave you with this:

It's really just to entertain my sweet M who is very busy these days.


Dr. M said...

What is wrong with you. I laughed so hard I nearly peed.

William Shakespeare said...

I'm glad you like it. It is a beautiful thing.