Great Scenes: “Food fight” from Family Game

Family Game (家族ゲーム) is a 1983 film directed by Morita Yoshimitsu.  The film explores many social issues in Japan at the time including, but not limited to, dysfunctional families, competitive educational problems, and bullying.  Family Game is about the Numata family, which consists of mother, father, and two sons, Shinichi and Shigeyuki.  Shigeyuki is a junior high student who will be taking his high school entrance exams soon, while Shinichi is already attending a prestigious high school.  Shigeyuki’s grades, unlike his elder brother Shinichi’s, are poor.  So his father finds him a private tutor, Yoshimoto, and expects him to help Shigeyuki improve his grades and pass the entrance exam to a top high school.  Yoshimoto is a student at a third-rate University, but still manages to exponentially improve Shigeyuki’s grades using strict and overly odd tactics.  Family Game is a brilliant film that keeps you interested and laughing.  Employing dark humor, Morita effectively keeps the film entertaining while also being provocative.  The film reaches its climax in the following scene.

The famous food-fight scene.  This scene is completely ridiculous and masterful.  Filmed in a single take with a still camera, the scene depicts the family and Yoshimoto the tutor eating dinner to celebrate Shigeyuki’s acceptance into a top high school.  The dinner gets out of hand, however, when Yoshimoto decides to wreak havoc upon the entire family, slowly destroying their dinner and beating them up.  What is great in this scene is that the parents, impossibly absorbed in conversation, don’t even notice what is going on around them as their dinner is destroyed until near the end after Yoshimoto pours the entire bottle of wine on the table.  It is a puzzling scene in the context of the entire film, which seeks to show the discord in normal family life.

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