Fantastic Fest: ‘Tebana Sankichi: Snot Rockets’ Is a Blender for Your Unprepared Mind

By  · Published on September 23rd, 2012

by Michael Treveloni

A mailman delivers a letter to an old woman. However she is not the intended recipient. It’s actually for Tebana Sankichi (Tak Sakaguchi). When the carrier realizes his mistake he sets to deliver it personally to the man himself. The man himself looks like ‘Smooth Criminal’ era Michael Jackson, wearing a shirt that says “Kiss Me”. In a park he solves a murder. If this sounds a bit quick and scattershot that’s because it is. This is the world of Tebana Sankichi: Snot Rockets.

Sankichi is society’s obtuse moral compass with a finger on the pulse of a city living and breathing his very existance. He fights crime, solves mysteries, whethers visits from occult hags, wakes in cold sweats, gets committed to an insane asylum and pals around town preventing women from commiting suicide. His life is a full plate, so full that all this happens within the first seven minutes of the film’s blistering 79 minute running time.

Director and writer Yudai Yamaguchi understands that to keep a pace this frenzied would be a lot to ask, of him and the audience. Luckily Snot Rockets plays out in episodes (though we’re shown them out of order and with huge, huge gaps in between); and like any long running television show it sees its time slot shifted. This allows for dramatic changes in tone and style, which is a gale of fresh air. When its slot shifts to an afternoon spot, it is up against schmaltzy, feel-good soaps and so it adjusts accordingly. This happens randomly and breathlessly, sometimes for the better, others for the worse.

Recalling some of the better moments of Tim and Eric as well as the Swedish show Grotesco, it’s a puree of adrenalized lunacy. To describe Snot Rockets in a conventional way would be impossible. It is not a conventional movie. Playing more like a middle school sleepover’s collective stream of conscience; it burns across the screen with an enthusiasm that doesn’t give a shit if you understand or get the jokes. Snot Rockets is here and it’s loud and cheap and ready to scream your shocked face into another dimension.

The Upside: It has some genuinely funny and astoundingly bizarre moments that won’t fade away any time soon.

The Downside: The breakneck energy is overwhelming and will easily turn away those without patience.

On the Side: Yamaguchi cites Goodfellas as a huge inspiration for the film.

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