Traffic Jam (1991)

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During 1980s, at the height of Japan's economic power, the furasato (or hometown) boom struck. White-collar workers slaving for 12 hours a day only to face a two-hour commute began to fantasize of a simpler way of life in the rural countryside. Director Mitsuo Kurotsuchi parodies this phenomenon with Jutai. Former rock icon Kenichi Hagiwara plays service industry everyman who hawks expensive toys to yuppies in Akihabara, Tokyo's electronics district. Taking a vacation during the holidays, he piles his wife (Hitomi Kuroki) and two children in the car to visit his own furasato. Living in an idyllic little isle off of the southern island of Shikoku, Grandpa (Eiji Okada), who's half senile, and Grandma (Emiko Higashi), who's beyond chipper, eagerly await the arrival of their son and grandchildren. Unfortunately, between Tokyo and Shikoku is a traffic jam that would put the one in Jean-Luc Godard's Weekend to shame. Soon a five-day trip to a rural paradise turns into an epic journey into motorist hell, replete with a weak-bladdered child, hopelessly bad navigation skills, and a near head-on collision with a truck full of pigs. ~ Jonathan Crow, Rovi

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