Tampopo (1985) Poster

(1985)

User Reviews

Review this title
99 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
10/10
My All-Time Favorite Movie!
underpussy25 July 2002
I just keep watching this movie over and over again. Why? It's hard to say exactly. Sure, the acting is great and the story is terrific, but what makes "Tampopo" so special is harder to define. I like to think of it as optimism; the belief that people in this world still do nice things for other people. Or maybe that romance can strike when you least expect it. Sure, this is a movie about food, you've heard all about that, but more importantly it's a movie about people. People working together, eating together, striving together, and accomplishing together.

The script is flawless. Every scene blends into the next, and takes you someplace new. The narrative sidetracks away from the main story from time to time, leading to the most conceptual and entertining scenes. Tampopo is an adventure on a very small and personal scale. It's a charming movie, unlike any other I've seen, well worth a look.
83 out of 92 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Made me want to get a bowl of noodles immediately.
Mr Parker10 July 2003
I watched this movie for the first time last night and I have to say, it was awesome. This is one of those rare movies that are made with so much emotion, you can't help but be affected by what's going on before your eyes. I found the movie to be funny, touching, shocking, sensual, weird, thoughtful, cute, etc. The love of food is apparent throughout the entire movie. It kind of reminded me of Like Water for Chocolate, the way food was revered in the story. The movie is done in an interesting way. Mainly, it's about a woman named Tampopo who is left in charge of her husband's noodle shop after he dies. Having problems with maintaining a general quality to the place, especially with the cooking, she receives assistance from a rugged cowboy-type. Along with several other characters, they help to turn the place into something special. Occasionally, the story veers away from this plot to follow other characters in food-related scenes. For instance, there's a vignette about a group of girls being taught how to eat noodle soup properly by an etiquette teacher at a restaurant. They notice another patron in the restaurant, sucking at his noodles loudly but clearly enjoying them. The girls then do the same thing, prompting the teacher to follow suit, all of them sucking away at their noodles with the most exaggerated sound effects I have ever heard. This results in a scene so hilarious that I had to stop it and rewind it after it was done. Soon after, the story goes back to Tampopo and the other characters in her universe. There's other characters that are returned to periodically, like this white-suited gangster and his moll. Their scenes are erotically charged and quite striking. It was funny but at the same time it just grabbed me attention wise. There's a moment where they pass a raw egg yolk back and forth through each others mouths without rupturing it. It's done slowly and erotically, the two lovers obviously enjoying this really weird thing we're seeing. I have to say I've never really seen anything like that in a movie. All in all, I was pretty much entranced from the moment the movie began. I really didn't think I was going to enjoy it this much! It's really funny and it shows a side to Japanese cuisine and how serious it is taken there that I had never known before viewing this. I recommend this movie from top to bottom and I think it has deservedly earned a spot in my all-time faves list! If you are interested in Japanese culture and you appreciate food in the least, you owe it to yourself to track a copy of this down and watch it, especially if you like a good bowl of ramen!

RATING: ***** out of *****.
51 out of 56 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
A classic of world cinema
intelearts15 November 2006
This remains one of the better comedies of all time due to star performances, a superb script, and many, many surprises. Above all, the pacing is some of the best seen in any comedy.

Tampopo has all the qualities of good story telling: a hero, a disciple, a quest.

And when your hero is a trucker, the disciple a woman in need of help, and the quest to cook the best noodles then you know you're in for fun.

In between all this are vignettes on how food and life mingle. It is more than simple laughs there are moments of poignancy, and genuine flights of imagination.

Many directors could do well to watch the ease with which the camera is handled here: the plot flows beautifully and the switches to the small vignettes are handled with suitable aplomb.

All in all a three course meal.
22 out of 24 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Something for Everyone
niisja23 September 2004
This movie is not, I repeat, is not intended for the typical movie goer. It is not to be forgotten a day after having been seen. It should be watched repeatedly, gone over with a solid spoon for thorough digesting. Not everyone who sees it will love it at first. But anyone who gives it a willing and open mind will find a deep respect within drawing them further into the movie. Should the simple viewer happen upon this movie, it is necessary to understand that it is not an American movie and only slightly emulates one, therefore it must be expected that certain aspects of the film will escape one at first. There will be certain chapters of the film which appeal more than others, but it is crucial to make an effort to be considerate of the fact that Juzo Itami was not necessarily making Tampopo up to be an international success. What is truly mindblowing is that this movie is nearly twenty years old! I am completely in awe each time I see this movie, and it never fails to make me stop and watch as Goro is instructing Tampopo on why the customer must, MUST, be observed upon entering the shop while Gun complains that the pork slices are too thin. Slap, slap, don't you want to see how the customer reacts? Isn't it strange? How do we relate in this tale? Pick it up, become an addict, never see another movie the same way ever again.
42 out of 49 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Beautiful Film, A Classic
cali-2925 February 2007
I first saw this film on TV around 1990 and loved it. Its one of those films that you put on your mental list of films to see again. My girlfriend managed to buy an Japanese import subtitled version for Xmas and we sat down to watch. Tampopo is a film that starts interesting and slowly draws you in until you realise you sat for an hour and a half mesmerised. Its one of those films that when the lights go up you're not sure what you just watched but somehow it all made sense and you know it was very special. This is a film for life. I won't watch it every week but everyone I loaned it to came back with the same comments as myself. There are moments of sheer beauty that make your eyes fill up with joy. Several times I had to hold back a sniff, Damn I wanna cook noodles now. If Tampopo doesn't capture your heart then maybe you miss the point of film making as an art.
28 out of 32 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
The Wild Bunch at the noodle shop. Slurp!
DeeNine-26 October 2002
There are any number of very funny scenes in this lightly plotted and highly episodic romantic comedy from acclaimed Japanese director Juzo Itami. You may recall him as the guy who got in trouble with the Yakuza, the Japanese "mafia," because they didn't like the way he made fun of them in Minbo no onna (1992). You may also know that he committed suicide at the age of 64 in 1997 after being accused of adultery. He is the son of samurai film maker Mansaku Itami. I mention this since one of the things satirized here are samurai films.

But--and perhaps this is the secret of Itami's success both in Japan and elsewhere--the satire is done with a light, almost loving touch. Even though he also takes dead aim at spaghetti westerns and the Japanese love affair with food, especially their predilection for fast food noodle soup, at no time is there any rancor or ugliness in his treatment.

If you've seen any Itami film you will be familiar with his star, his widow, Nobuko Miyamoto, she of the very expressive face, who is perhaps best known for her role as the spirited tax collector in Itami's The Taxing Woman (1987) and The Taxing Woman Returns (1988). She has appeared in all of his films. Here she is Tampopo ("Dandelion"), a not entirely successful proprietor of a noodle restaurant. Along comes not Jones but Tsutmu Yamazaki as Goro, a kind of true grit, but big-hearted Japanese urban cowboy. He ambles up to the noodle bar and before long establishes himself as a kind of John Wayne hero intent on teaching Tampopo how the good stuff is made. Along the way Itami makes fun of stuffy bureaucrats, macho Japanese males, heroic death scenes, Japanese princesses attempting to acquire a European eating style, movie fight scenes, and God knows what else.

The comedy is bizarre at times. The sexual exchange of an egg yoke between the man in the white suit (Koji Yakusho) and his mistress (Fukumi Kuroda) might make you laugh or it might just gross you out. The enthusiastic description of the "yam sausages" from inside a wild boar is strange. Surely one is not salivating at such an entre, but one can imagine that such a "delicacy" might surely exist and have its devotees.

Indeed an Itami film has a kind of logic all its own. An exemplary scene is that of the stressed and dying mother of two young children, who is ordered by her husband to "Get up and cook!" This (reasonably relevant) scene is juxtaposed with the one with the college professor which is about being and getting ripped off--which seems to have little to do with the rest of the movie, yet somehow seems appropriate, perhaps only because they are at a restaurant. Another typical Itami scene is the businessmen at supper. They hem and haw until their chief orders and then they all pretend to debate and consider, and then order exactly the same thing except for one brash young guy who dazzles (and embarrasses) the old sycophantic guys by order a massive meal in French with all the trimmings.

The climax of the film comes with plenty of musical fanfare. As Goro and others sit down at the counter, they are served Tampopo's final culinary creation, the noodle soup now hopefully honed to perfection. As the tension mounts, a musical accompaniment, reminiscent of something like the clock ticking in High Noon (1952), rises to a crescendo. All the while Tampopo sweats and frets and prays that she will triumph, which will be in evidence if, and only if, they drain their soup bowls! (Do they?)

The final credits roll (after some further misdirections and some further burlesque) over a most endearing and ultimately touching shot of a young mother with a beautiful and contented infant feeding at her breast.

Perhaps this was Itami's best film.

(Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon!)
27 out of 31 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Yummy
drfraud-121 March 2007
Tampopo is an extremely clever and a very original movie. Like so many other Japanese films before it, Tampopo may not entirely appeal to the western public, but it is by far the most accessible movie I've seen in years.

It is hard to define this film as anything but a story of life through culinary perspective. Major aspects of our every day experience are looked at by introducing food into them, sometimes resulting in a very comical effect. From the first scene, to the last few moments, you will probably be amazed by sheer originality of this movie. Simply coming up with ideas they came up with takes a unique and incredibly approach. Something that has never been done before.

In a sense, I can only compare Tampopo's approach at making us 'taste' what we see with a 2006 film Perfume which managed to describe olfactory experiences with as much success. But unlike Perfume, Tampopo also juggles around few other interesting movie genres just for the fun of it. If you watch carefully, you will begin to see western elements, gangster movie and even a police crime, all in one movie. They might not seem connected at first, but they will make sense in due time.

Overall however the side stories are only there to keep us interested in the main event.

If you thought that tasting things in cinema is impossible, wait till you see Tampopo.

10/10 for great cast, humour, story and acting.
12 out of 13 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Makes you HUNGRY!
domino100312 December 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Loved this film when I first saw it in 1987. The story is wonderful: A trucker helps this young widow, who has a young son, improve her noodle business. He gets some help along the way from several individuals. The funny part of the film is that it doesn't just concentrate on this story, but goes off the beaten path, showing little stories on the way. The common link? Food. It's interesting how food blends into everything that is done in the movie (An old woman that has a fetish for squeezing soft foods, an etiquette class changes young women when they watch a man eat spaghetti). Called a "noodle western" for a good reason: The mysterious stranger helping a widow in distress. This is an excellent film, but you will get VERY hungry watching it.
12 out of 13 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Itami's style fits nicely
cokaznazn29 July 2003
The way each scene in Tampopo seems to lead into the next really jarred me when I first started to watch it. Movies with multiple plot lines will often create glaring differences between the scenes, but Itami did the opposite. Ending the bicycle workout scene (with Goro and Tampopo) with the business party walking into the restaurant where the "How to eat Italian food" lesson took place, which, upon conclusion found the camera following a waiter BACK to the business party all occurred seamlessly and left a grin on my face no one else in the room understood. In fact, the pace of the film is very conducive to the second and third viewings. Well, that's my excuse for why none of my friends found it quite as entertaining.
30 out of 37 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
What a masterpiece this movie is!!
redwoods7 November 2011
I can't count the number of times I've watched this wonder, discovered one night when I rented it from the local video store in 1993. I believe that like a great recipe, you need to practice it at least a dozen times to start to get a grip on it. Every time I watch it I take more pleasure as I get older (and hopefully wiser). This film is without a doubt one of the most sensual, generous masterly realized movie of all times. It is to be hold close to Fritz Lang and Kubrik masterpieces, but obviously in a completely different register. It would take me all night to decipher the various reasons why this pure marvel is so good. But this is not required. It is simply a tale about life and death, and the ongoing process of sex and food in between the two. Epicurism was never thought to be a Japanese value, until we Westerners with all our believes and convictions, realized that Japanese culture encompasses much more that our restrained field of philosophy. This ode to life touches all aspects of our arrogant human society in so many FUNNY and touching ways that I could hardly compare it to anything else watched anywhere else. In a way it is an encyclopedia of human traits. Maybe "La Grande Bouffe" would be the closest contender on SOME aspects only. But Tampopo goes much further in my opinion. And above all the marvelous acting makes it SO FUNNY!! Every time I watch it I laugh more... To have managed to put all these traits of human behavior in only one such great movie is truly an ASTONISHING work in terms of scripting, directing and editing. But even the way it is filmed is perfection itself. Above all keep in mind this NOT a serious boring movie at all but a funny piece of cake to watch... A bit crazy too!! Be aware you'll never look at your bowl of noodles the same way after watching this movie!! "Bon appetite!!"
10 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Many unforgettable scenes
justusdallmer25 January 2002
When I saw it again after many years, I discovered how many impressive, unique, unparalleled scenes are included in TAMPOPO - I remembered my astonishment when first watching them. I was astonished how surprising these scenes were, how unexpected, how strange and weird and fascinating. Try it yourself! It's unbelievable, this free flow of thoughts and odd ideas. It opens your mind. It teaches to respect your food. It makes you love Japan.

PS: listen carefully to "The Old Master". He appears very soon.
21 out of 27 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
Once upon a time, not long ago. There lived a nooodlemaker named Tampopo. (spoilers!)
vertigo_1431 July 2004
Warning: Spoilers
If the Japanese word for noodle is Ramen, does Ramen Noodles mean Noodles Noodles?

I once read an article about the genetic engineering of rice, something loaded with beta carotene which produced a yellowish colored rice called 'Golden Rice.' One article said that it would be easy to introduce the rice into Eastern cultures, because of the way the traditional Eastern cultures viewed food as a sacred thing, especially rice. I seem to remember that certain rices, usually based on the color, were reserved for different things. I think dark rice was served during ceremonies or as a signal of an upperclass status. But the point was, that certain cultures view food as such a holy, sacred thing that other cultures may not.

That's what Tampopo is all about, the beauty of food. Kind of reminds me of Cibbo Motto's first album, "Vive La Woman" where ever song is about food. In Tampopo, we may start with Tampopo's painstaking quest to be the best noodlemaker, but eventually, we get little strings of skit-like stories interspersed throughout the picture showing the different ways food is valued. In the beginning, for example, the film opens up in with a couple in a theater, and the man in the white suit talking about how he didn't like to be disturbed by the sounds of crinkling bags of potato chips and other assorted theater food. Meanwhile, he and his date are being served quite a fine feast (considering they're only in a theater) when they arrive at the theater. Something unusual for me as well funny, and as you will see in the rest of the movie, something completely different. You may never look at food the same again.

The main story is that of Tampopo, a noodlemaker at Lai Lai. One night a visitor, Goro, stops in her restaurant and gives her advice about the quality of her soup. In sort of a parody of Rocky, Goro trains her to be the best noodlemaker in a way that the Lai Lai into a temple of noodles. She starts to meet people along the way who are noodle masters themselves who will train her how to take care into each noodle and so forth. So precise and everything else.

As the story continues, we see a master and his trainee learning how to eat a bowl of soup. The rituals, the caressing of the meat with the chopsticks, and all of that. We see the couple who place a sensuous value upon food, using it somewhat as a substitute for actual sex. We see a man who's wife is on her deathbed, but manages the strength to get up and cook rice for the family before dying. We see a series of homeless vagrants who tell Tampopo about all the exciting foods and beverages they've been working on. They describe brilliant French cuisines and one man even notes that he's worked fifteen years on perfecting a type of sake. In another part of the film, we briefly see some Japanese businessmen in a restaurant. All order sole except for one, who I think is something like an intern-type, who goes through great effort describing the meal he wishes to order and what it is made of, even the beverage. I think this movie is pretty funny for us American audiences because the idea seems so stupid: everyone is so serious about food. Asian cultures may look at this differently, and find it funny because of things the characters say (like the dentists who remove a man's absess in his tooth and have to run to the window because it smelled so bad), knowing that they too, hold food in the same value. It's really remarkable the context that the film can be taken simply because of an unusual subject: food. This movie shows how nearly every facet of life revolves around food.

Don't watch it on an empty stomach.
10 out of 12 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
One of a kind
mfaulcon24 January 2003
Tampopo is a wonderfully thought-provoking film full of wit, charm, and insightful if not scathing commentary on contemporary Japanese society. I've seen this movie a dozen times and I still find something new every time that makes my jaw drop. One of my all-time favorites. Even after 15 years, Tampopo is still a must-see film for anyone with an interest in Japan.
6 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
Ramen Western
sharky_5530 November 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Tampopo is a comic satire about the enjoyment of food, and then some, but it could be perceived as earnest if viewing just the main narrative. Itami does not seek to expose and ridicule, but sprinkles loving touches throughout the story of a widow's struggling noodle business. In an early scene, Goro recounts how his master taught him the mysteries and treasures of the ramen bowl, and how he delicately assigns each segment its own personality; each slice of pork, each strand of noodle (smooth but strong!), the slowly sinking seaweed. Such an ode to a simple staple meal could be inserted in many films about food, and Itami only slightly exaggerates. And it's effective too - films about food should make you hungry, and imbue you with the same sense of passion for cooking as the characters do. I made noodles immediately after watching this.

He reaches instead by making a familiar situation ridiculous. A lone wanderer (he has a young Ken Watanabe in tow, who does not do much) drifts into a bar on a rainy night and quietly threatens a drunk scoundrel, before being beaten soundly offscreen by 5 men (they later have a 'rematch' which ends in them congratulating on each other's prowess). Later, in a voyeuristic and mysterious moment heightened by the soundtrack, Tampopo is lead by a stranger through back alleys and grimy shops to a slit in the wall, which reveals not a secret conspiracy or cult, but a man preparing soup stock. When a rival restaurant is challenged, the stride into the scene fanned out like a posse from a western, looking for retribution. In the climatic shoot-out, the banging drums once again make this tenser than a meal could ever be, and the camera slides slowly across each taster (and here the sound design is just both incredible and funny - not horses galloping, gunshots or an iconic whistle, but slurping, slurping and more slurping), before the music crescendos with them downing the soup in unison. And after the whole affair, Goro wanders away to yet another story, like a Blondie or an Ethan Edwards.

Tampopo remains earnest herself, Miyamoto giving a delightful performance. There is much played straight in the narrative of revitalising the noodle joint; lessons in dissecting each facet of the customer's body language, needs and personality, timing the preparation of each bowl and memorising orders to a tee could fit snugly into a similar movie as a training montage. In one particularly shining moment, she echoes the biting criticisms of a rival's noodles and all she has learned while bobbing in and out and behind Goro, all with the adorable creased smile on her face. She reacts to failure with teary disappointment, and to success with delight and dedication. It is in fact the aspect of playing it straight that creates much of the comedy. Food is taken very seriously, even by the homeless, who compare fine wines like they were at the dinner table, not crouching in a rubbish dump. And like true food snobs, they lament about declines in product quality and the departure of the human touch, but that is complimented by the loving way in which a rice omelette is delicately fried; maybe they do know a thing or too. They, like Tampopo, talk of food with wide eyes and sly smiles, and are completely and utterly earnest.

We see the same in the little vignettes sprinkled throughout the main story, and it creates an outrageous and absurd humour. A young man sees his older colleagues all order rather plain meals, and then inquires at length about the fine cuisines on the menu, and then keeps going and going, all while he is being prodded to hurry up. Weeping children are told to finish every last bite of their meal, just like at any dinner table, only this one is cooked by the dead wife. The silence of a posh socialite lesson is invaded by the slurping of a man nearby, and then to the horror of the elder, the attempts by her students begin to form a cacophony of slurps that only increase in volume and intensity!

And then there is the sort of desire that approaches sensual levels, quite literally (First, caress the pork with your chopsticks). A slurp of an oyster (a strong vaginal symbol) turns into a heated sensual exchange, and the music makes it out to be some heavenly beauty and romance. And the main couple engage in a series of fetishized sexual acts involving a struggling shrimp shrimp against the bare belly, dipping body parts into cream, and something out of a drunk party game (I've seen it with ice), which involves slipping an egg yolk between each other's mouths. This is so so sincere, and their bodies shake with delight even as I shuddered in disgust. And at the end of their own little story, the gangster has been fatally shot, and his poetic final words turn into a long winded spiel about the yam sausages and the best garnishes to go with them. This is absolutely hilarious, because first Itami hits all the usual clichés (the shhh-ing of the weeping lover, the leaving of a memento, the reminiscing of a long bygone time), second because it goes on for far longer than these death scenes usually go on, faking out the audience several times, and finally because it is still treated as absolutely serious - I mean, listen to the music. And the final image is a perfect combination of the hedonistic urges that Tampopo is made up of - a baby eagerly sucking on a mother's breast. Even an infant knows what it wants.
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
chef d'oeuvre
lynnbell-713-51472715 June 2013
Funny, mesmerizing, original, both spoof and serious, Tampopo is a 'ramen western" that is secretly about bringing the best out of a woman, In this case Tampopo. With bifurcating stories about food as the bond in all human relations, from birth to death, to sex and back again, the men in the film finally get it right. Pay attention to their personal histories of loss and love, to what is thrown away, lost or devalued, In Japanese Tampopo means Dandelion,and in Japanese culture dandelions are admired for their strength and deep roots and the ability to return each spring. This film has many seed stories, tossed in so many directions your mind cannot keep them all together. A film to see and see again, over time. A bowl of noodles will never be the same again.
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Well worth the struggle to track down this gem!
toobleu11 June 2003
"Tampopo" is a movie that most anyone will find quite funny, but it will be even more funny to those familiar with the Japanese people. (If you have ever had the opportunity/misfortune to try to eat mochi, this movie contains a scene that will have you rolling on the floor!) It is an excellent example of the ability of the Japanese to laugh at themselves, at those things that are peculiarly Japanese, and at their love affair with western (and particularly American) culture.

The Japanese have long had a tremendous admiration for the nerve and individuality of the Americans. They admire those traits mostly because they are all but forbidden in Japanese society. Their love affair with the American Western film genre is on display in the main story line in which the lone good-hearted cowboy rides into town to save the damsel in distress. However, the movie is mostly a series of humorous vignettes on the foibles of Japanese culture. They are so funny because they remind us of the eccentricities present in our culture as well.
10 out of 15 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Possibly the greatest film about food ever made
Koyama2220 July 2010
Who doesn't love food?

Itami Juzo's Tampopo is a heartwarming film about people who love, and are often obsessed with, food. The main narrative follows two truck drivers, Gun (Yamazaki Tsutomu) and Goro (Watanabe Ken) who stumble upon a run down, unpopular ramen noodle shop. The shop's owner, Tampopo (Miyamoto Nobuko), is running it all by herself and isn't too experienced in the "art" of making good ramen. After a brawl, Gun and Goro take it upon themselves to improve Tampopo's cooking and redefine her shop. The film not only focuses on this narrative, but is interspersed with brilliantly transitioned scenes of people's interaction with food: a white-suited yakuza (Yakusho Koji) and his mistress perform erotic acts with food, a group of homeless turn out to be master chefs, a young corporate subordinate upstages all of his superiors with his knowledge of French cuisine at an expensive dinner, an old lady sneaks around in a supermarket just to feel the food, among others.

Never missing a step, Yamazaki Tsutomu fully embodies the character of Gun. His tough assertiveness, along with the willingness to fight and instigate others, gives him many of the characteristics that John Wayne's famous cowboy persona's had. In fact, the entire cast is filled with likable, charismatic characters. Tampopo is spunky, determined, and easy to root for–we want her to succeed in her quest for ramen- making perfection. Yakusho Koji is also a welcome presence with his depiction of the erotic possibilities of food; in one scene he cracks an egg and the yolk is passed around between his mouth and his beautiful mistress's. It is ultimately the way in which these characters are portrayed on screen that gives them such a likable presence. Food is universally loved–showing characters and their intense passion for food strikes a chord with everybody. It also makes you hungry.

Itami's use of scene transitions is brilliant in its unobtrusiveness. Scenes suddenly shift without the viewer even noticing–it's seamless perfection. For example, there is a scene in which Tampopo is exercising outside under Gun's supervision when a group of businessmen in suits walks past. The camera decides to follow the businessmen to their destination, a French restaurant, to watch them order their food, then follows the waiter out into the main seating area where it stops to observe a group of women receiving a lesson on proper Western dining etiquette (eating without slurping…although a Western man in the restaurant is slurping his noodles loudly, much to the chagrin of the teacher). As the businessmen's waiter passes through, the camera follows him back to the business party. You can't help but enjoy the way this all works–the transitions make for a creative and ultimately successful approach to telling a story with multiple plot lines and random happenings.

Itami created a masterpiece here, one that should be seen and loved by everyone. There are not many films that display the kind of warm splendor that Tampopo emanates. You cannot avoid smiling throughout the movie. The characters become deeply involving and one cannot help but feel connected with them. This is the ultimate film for food lovers. Try to avoid the pangs hunger while watching. I couldn't.
4 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
A good reason not to believe the Hollywood hype!
colin-68317 February 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Pure magic! From first frame to last, this magical movie transports you to a world that most humans have almost forgotten, where real feelings and sensations are the stuff of life. And death! All with food as the basic ingredient.

The film revolves around the basic plot of the hero arriving to save the damsel in distress but frequently branches off to individual nuggets, pearls of wisdom, just plain weirdness, flights of fancy and pure hokum that would serve no purpose in any other setting but here serve to provide the most satisfying cinematic meal I can ever recall. No kidding.

The references throughout the film mix a reverence of Japanese and European food culture, nods to the western film style and many other in and no-so-in jokes that sometimes only become clear after the third, fourth or fifth viewing. It's a keeper and you will come back to it - and for sure it a GREAT date movie, or just one to share with good friends.

Oh, but it's no Disney flick. If I'm painting too rosy a picture, it should be noted that there are real tragic moments in this film too - the scene where a young mother dies just after cooking her last meal for the family and then the distraught father makes their even more distraught kids eat 'Mom's last meal while it's hot' lives long in the memory. There are also moments of bladder-loosening humour and I won't spoil the jokes by telling them here. It's a living film.

Bound to appear on the favourites list of anyone who sees it. Such a shame that it has not had more exposure. I first encountered it on UK's channel 4 TV sometime around the late 80's. I was utterly mesmerised and spent many a year trying to locate a copy on VHS and eventually gave up. I asked so many people if they had seen it and - err, no never heard of it. So when I saw a dodgy Chinese DVD copy with subtitles on eBay - well I just had to throw away my morals and buy it! Glad I did.

For example: I just lent this to a friend who had never heard of it and the response came back: 'F***! where in the hell has this flick been hiding? It's a total killer!'

His words, not mine.

Track it down - enjoy! PS you-tube tampopo the noodle master scene.
4 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
A "Delicious" Masterpiece
gogoschka-111 February 2018
Simply the best film about food I've ever seen; peppered with homages and nods to great westerns, this lovely comedy is just a pure joy to watch. Just don't watch it on an empty stomach - you'll be craving noodles within minutes. A timeless Asian classic. 8 stars out of 10.

In case you're interested in more underrated masterpieces, here's some of my favorites:

imdb.com/list/ls070242495
6 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Ramen Masterpiece
EdgarST4 February 2013
I love this film and often recommend it to students of scriptwriting as a model of anti-script «a la Syd Field». Free structure, all kinds of vignettes about food, the art of cooking (Itami, I believe, was a chef), closed with a loving image that tells all about us humans' urge to eat. Best images are those beautiful erotic shots that illustrate the story of a handsome cinéphile gangster dressed in white (the scenes featuring an egg and a shrimp, are topped by the one with an oyster and a very young female fisher), but you will surely enjoy several comedy vignettes, that freely disrupt the central story, including the bureaucrats' lunch, the etiquette lady who is teaching young women how to eat spaghetti, the old master teaching his young pupil how to approach a bowl of ramen soup, the character with a tooth ache, the dying woman who prepares meal for her family… But of course, the main story (taken from «Shane», of the stranger that helps a family) is very good, about how Tampopo, the owner of a cheap road café, is taught how to make good soup by a truck driver and several other characters, with industrial spying included. An excellent post-modern comedy, that will probably make you want to run to the next Japanese restaurant and have a bowl of hot ramen soup.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
Slurp! Delightful.
thismango6 October 2012
Warning: Spoilers
When so many films both in Asia and the West are either cynically grim or tediously self-indulgent, it is a delight to experience the masterful work of a director who views humanity with warmth and sympathy but without illusion, who can be amusing without being silly, profound without being pompous, and serious without being depressing.

Tampopo is completely unique and defies definition in terms of genre and subject matter. It is moving, amusing and sad. Beyond its emotional content it has a philosophical depth which is not conceptually elaborated but which permeates it like the subtle flavour of a perfect noodle stock.

The main characters are all fairly thoroughly rounded and battered by the abrasions of life. Without hiding their sadness, we see their joy in appreciating small achievements and subtle pleasures. There is a simple storyline but it's not the main point of the film. The real content is in the development of the characters and their interactions, and the subtly exaggerated comedy of the world view expressed in the film. There are numerous side-plots which range from extreme violence to hilarious eccentricity - a gangster is horribly murdered in front of his girlfriend; an elderly woman infuriates a shopkeeper by sneaking around the shop squeezing items of food.

Tampopo is an absolute joy and offers a refreshingly original viewpoint on the possibilities of film making. And it will make you hungry.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
One of the best Japanese light comedies
MartinHafer5 July 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This movie is rather strange and quirky. The movie begins with a gangster sitting in the front row of a movie theater and being waited on and pampered by his minions (complete with champaign and a beautiful meal on his own little table)--all before the movie begins. He is facing the camera and he begins addressing the audience of the movie Tampopo! Then, the credits roll. That's certainly unusual, huh?! The main story is about a rather run down noodle shop owned by a lady named Tampopo. Two truckers enter the shop and get in a fight. The next morning, the one trucker who got beaten up is fed by Tampopo. She asks him and the other trucker what they thought of the noodle dish she'd made them the night before, so they reluctantly tell her it was BAD! She wants to make it better but just doesn't know where to start, so she asks for their help. The hero of the story (the guy who got beat up) it a bit of an obsessive nut about ramen and he takes her under his wing. Through the course of the movie, they meet various people who all agree to help her--one helps her improve her broth, one to improve her noodles, one to remodel the restaurant, etc. All this is done with a healthy dose of heart and a light comedic touch. Despite this ONLY being a noodle restaurant, it seems at times reminiscent of either Rocky or the Magnificent Seven! Additionally, there are several small stories that seem to randomly enter the movie from time to time. All center on the theme of food and those who adore it. Particularly strange is the same gangster who has an intense food fetish. Be forewarned parents, the scenes he has with his girlfriend are a bit graphic. Even the end of the movie stresses this same theme as the camera pans onto a scene of an infant happily sucking away at his mother's breast! Great acting and quirky characters you care about make this an excellent picture.

FYI--if you want a REAAALLLY weird Japanese comedy, try Happiness of Katakuris. It makes this movie look normal by comparison! Both are exceptional.
6 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
What a Great Little Film
john_hugo21 October 2013
Tampopo is a wonderful lighthearted film. There is no antagonist in the film except for possibly "insincere noodles". The film centers around the quest of a shy humble restaurant owner to improve her product. She has no idea what to do, until her hero Goro (a truck driver)arrives by chance in her restaurant and reluctantly agrees to mentor her in the art of noodle creation. Sounds boring, I admit, but it is not. The movie bounces from one absurd scene to another, with one common theme: food. There are even a couple of bizarre and hilarious sex scenes centered around food. Very funny stuff! It also features a very young Ken Wantabe in one of his earliest roles. If you don't mind subtitles, this is a gem of a film: a completely original comedy.
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
An outstanding, warm film about noodle soup and human relationships. How to make a rice omelet is included
Terrell-415 February 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Tampopo has been compared to everything from a Shane-like Japanese western (loner comes riding into town and winds up helping, against the odds, a young widow with a little boy) to an episodic Tati-like film that uses gentle humor to show what a lot of us are like. In a way, it has the same sensibility as My Uncle...there's not a mean-spirited action or person in the movie, and we wind up liking the people we meet in the film. Like My Uncle, it doesn't have a Hollywood ending, but a conclusion which is both satisfying and poignant. Tampopo, however, is its own movie, not a derivation, and a fine movie it is, too.

Goro (Tsutomu Yamaguchi) is a long-haul truck driver. With him is his young co-driver, Gun (Ken Watanabe). It's dark. It's raining and they're hungry so they pull over and stop at a small noodle shop. Inside are some rough characters, led by a drunk guy who is giving loud advice to the cook and owner. She, Tampopo (Nobuko Miyamoto), is behind the counter hustling steaming bowls of noodle soup. It's not long before Goro intervenes after telling Gun to go back to the truck. The next morning he's bruised, aching and wakes up in the noodle shop. And when Tampopo begs him and Gun over breakfast to honestly tell her what he thought of her soup, he does. It wasn't good, he says. Tampopo is determined to do better and begs Goro to stay and teach her. For the rest of the movie we're on a kind of surreal, metaphysical journey to learn how to make a masterful bowl of noodle soup. Along the way, we're going to encounter stories that have nothing to do with Tampopo and Goro, some stories that have a glancing relationship to them, and some that are very much part of their story...and the stories all are humorously odd, a bit off-center, and funny. We even have two death scenes, one so over the top as to be awe-inspiring (Note to self: Decline any offer to eat grilled wild boar yam sausage). The thing they all have in common is food...an old woman lasciviously squeezing the fruit and cheese in a modern supermarket...an awkward salaryman at a private luncheon with the elderly bosses, none of whom can manage the French menu and play follow-the-leader by ordering sole, clear consume and beer. Last to order, it turns out he can handle the menu and goes for the quenelles, the escargot and a specific wine vintage. He may not have a long career but it's a funny and satisfying moment...or the young wife who each week drops off her aging husband at a fine noodle restaurant for lunch, but then must quickly leave for an hour to visit the bank, accompanied by the young chauffeur...or food as an aphrodisiac, with dancing shrimp on a naked tummy, new uses for whipped cream, and a raw egg passed back and forth by mouth between two lovers. (Note to self: Take a pass on that one, too.)

We learn all kinds of good things...how to cook a rice omelet for Tampopo's little boy that had my stomach grumbling with hunger...sharing grilled Korean kalbi, snipping the hot, marinated meat from the short ribs, wrapping it in lettuce and munching...filling a thin pancake with a smear of hoisin, shredded scallion, pieces of crisp duck skin with fat and some duck meat, then wrapping it up and chewing it down. Most of all, we learn about noodle soup, the different kinds and styles. It's not just the broth that must be outstanding, so must be the noodles. "I see improvement, but we want customers to line up," says one friend and adviser discussing Tampopo's noodles. "They're beginning to have depth but they still lack balance," says another. "They're not alive enough. They lack vigor," says a third. "And they still lack profundity," adds a fourth. Tampopo has some exacting teachers.

All things sooner or later have their conclusions, and so does Tampopo. The side stories eventually are resolved, Tampopo's noodle soup is a great success. We don't know what might happen with Goro, but the drunken lout we met at the start of the movie has turned out to be a nice guy. And he likes Tampopo more than he lets on. We close with one of the happiest and most satisfying images about humans and food there is...a baby contently and single-mindedly having lunch at the breast of his young mother. It's a charming end to a charming movie.
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Completely concerned with, food, Oh yes & sex & life. Hilariously!
tpatria_ml6 July 2007
Warning: Spoilers
NOTE: Contains no real spoilers but considerable detail on some plot items.

The main plot line is a spoof of the western where the lone gunman rides into town (on a 16 wheeler) and solves the poor "widder" woman's problems, then rides off into the Sunset. Shane is the immediate inspiration - Tbutsutomu Yamazaki, as Goro, even looks a little like Alan Ladd - but there are references to other classic Westerns.

The central quest is to help the widow to learn to make the perfect noodle soup and overcome the competition she is losing to so badly. But there are may delightful vignettes along the way: Some related to the plot -- e.g. the surreptitious episode in the night kitchen, the dream sequence, the impromptu University glee club; Some totally unrelated to the main plot, e.g. series of short-shorts with a gangster and his moll, these providing the most explicit sex in the movie (extremely erotic but TASTEFUL, as you'd expect in a movie mostly concerned with food and manners); I'll only give away that an egg is involved. Other vignettes are unrelated; one, the mother preparing dinner, is almost guaranteed to leave you laughing and crying simultaneously.

A brief comment on the cinematography direction is in order: this is always understated but more than competent. As a good example,watch the scene in the train, where the reflections in the windows are used to great effect as the actors avoid looking directly at each other.

This is the first movie I ever wanted to own, unfortunately the DVD release disappeared and became very pricey ($100up) until very recently, when it has been released again -- I have 2 copies on order, one to keep and one to lend, as I believe _everybody_ should see this movie! 10/10, and in my personal top 100 of all time.
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews


Recently Viewed