The Hula Girls

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Director: Lee Sang-il
Cast: Yasuko Matsuyuki, Etsushi Toyokawa, Yû Aoi, Shizuyo Yamazaki
RunTime: 108 mins
Genre: Drama Comedy (Japanese)
Rating: PG

My impression of the hula dance - random wave movement of the hands by tanned girls wearing straw skirts with a big flower on the head. That was before this movie.

The Hula Girls, a heartwarming comedy from Japan, tells about the craft, emotions and passion behind this dance. Being Hawaii has almost nothing to do with a depressed and cold mining town, almost devoid of colours and warmth. However, a group of girls from the conservatives to bespectacled obasan, decided to learn the dance to develop this declining town into a Hawaiian Village.

This is a daunting task to a Tokyo dance teacher (wonderfully played by Yasuko Matsuyuki) and a demoralizing act to the conservative skeptics in the small village.

A story about going against all odds may remind you of another Japanese comedy, The Swing Girls. Both movies boost great energy, lovely music and can put a smile on your face.

As Japan official's entry to the 2007 Academy Awards Best Foreign Film, The Hula Girls is not only entertaining, but motivational. It may be small in ambition, but big in what in can achieve – to inspire people to chance, accept, fall and rise again.

It is funny and touching at the small time, pushing your heartstrings (and tear ducts) with the girls' triumph over people who do not believe in them, which includes themselves.

With its infectious energy and stirring movements, this hula dance deserves a round of applause and bouquets.

The Hula Girls - A round of applause and bouquets for the girls

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