Welcome Back, Mr. McDonald (1998)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Screwball Comedy, Showbiz Comedy  |   Run Time - 98 min.  |   Countries - Japan   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Donald Guarisco

Some critics have singled out Welcome Back Mr. McDonald as an excellent tribute to the screwball comedies of old and the comparison holds: it has the snappy pacing, witty dialogue and the inspired lunacy of that style of comedy. That said, Welcome Back Mr. McDonald has even more to offer as a satire of how the show business machine can eat up a good idea. The well-written script presents the mangling of a neophyte author's story in a hilarious yet frighteningly believable manner, carefully depicting how the collision of various egos with a tight schedule results in an ever more catastrophic series of story changes. The end result balances acidic observations of how petty-minded personal concerns often mar the art in show business with a heartfelt appreciation of how the perseverance of those involved can still result in worthwhile entertainment. Better yet, the ensemble cast brings these contortions to life in an entertaining style: Keiko Toda is sly as the casually cruel leading lady who gets the trouble rolling, Masahiko Nishimura is a chameleonic delight as the producer who bends himself into knots trying to keep everyone pleased and Kyoka Suzuki makes a sympathetic audience-identification figure as the hapless amateur writer caught in the middle. Finally, writer/director Koki Mitani films it all in snappy, judiciously paced style that gives an engaging sense of flair that lives up to the story's spirit. All in all, Welcome Back Mr. McDonald is an excellent pick for both foreign film fans and anyone who likes a good old-fashioned comedy.