Movie Review: Happy Flight

Ratings: 8/10

I had the opportunity to watch this movie when it was screened during an international film festival in my home town. It’s another film by Shinobu Yaguchi who also directed award-winning Waterboys and Swing Girls. I reviewed Swing Girls here. Swing Girls was a fun watch and I didn’t doubt that this would be any less. It’s once again about zeroes to heroes, or underdogs saving the day.

Bsaically the whole movie told us how an airport functioned, how everyone at each stage was related to the process and ensure a safe flight. It may sound procedural but it’s got comedy which is obvious since they cast Ayase Haruka(I see her in more comedy than dramatic stuff).

Kazuhiro Suzuki, a copilot who is trying to qualify as a pilot.

Etsuko Saitō, a young flight attendant going on her first international flight who service an All Nippon Airways 747-400 as Flight 1980 to Honolulu, Hawaii, United States.

Suzuki feels stressed when Captain Noriyoshi Harada becomes his evaluator, while Saitō becomes stressed when she learns she is working under Chief Purser Reiko Yamazaki.

The story also tells the story of Natsumi Kimura, a ground staffer who deals with issues regarding the flight.

I have watched Attention Please and TOKYO Airport before so basically watching how the airport works again was a refresh. It would be very meaningful if this is your first exposure to airport drama or movies since it’s packed with details normal people like us wouldn’t know. They do squeeze in a lot of characters but it felt like everyone was properly exposed and played, down to this old guy…

The situation they had to deal with was when the plane encountered engine issues and air-speed data could not be detected due to some damages. Technical engineers are all over the place looking for a missing spanner, hoping that that’s not the reason why the engines clogged up. However, plane fanatics claim a bird struck the engine. Anyhow, the plane had to return to Haneda Airport. How great it was when there was a typhoon going on as well. Catastrophes abound.

Of course there were minor problems as well such as oversold seats, errant customers, delayed flights, fanatics, bird-lovers and etc. I doubt everything goes on at the same time in the real airport but it gives you the gist of what to expect as a cabin attendant or anyone involved in the airport crew. Everyone is white knight in shining armour, down to the most annoying customers. The movie aims to be feel-good and all so I have a feeling that it might be too rose-tinted.  The story may not sound much if you have watched similar plots before but the comedy is good so I’d watch it again for a good laugh. The journey is emphasized, not the destination.

Japan is well-known for their occupational movies or dramas so it doesn’t really come surprising that this is well done. I appreciate that even though there’s a lot to fit in, they managed to balance it well into one hour 40 minutes. Shinobu Yaguchi didn’t disappoint. Despite so, I felt like it was harder to relate to the movie as they were working professionals in very different shoes. Swing Girls and Water Boys were about high schoolers, which was closer to my age thus easier to understand and relate to. Happy Flight has a shimmering, glowing feel-good vibe about it where heroes all eventually overcome their difficulties which we will never experience.  If you spare the thinking and criticisms, the movie is a good watch.



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