Boys Over Flowers: Final -- Film Review

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Hawaii International Film Festival
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HONOLULU -- With its gilded sets, touristy locations and cool Japanese idols that strut as if posing for a photo shoot, "Boys Over Flowers: Final" is celluloid daydreaming, like "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" for teenagers. The Cinderella story gets a modern makeover as the girl-next-door heroine and her Forbes cover-boy fiance zip around the globe to recover a stolen tiara as symbolic as the proverbial glass slipper.

The film is an offshoot of the phenomenal hit 2005-07 Tokyo Broadcasting System TV series, helmed by the same director, Yasuharu Ishii. It overtook "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" to top the Japanese boxoffice when it opened in June. Those uninitiated to the series or the original manga will miss all the in-jokes and back stories of the characters, but the production's cosmetic prettiness will still impress a young female audience.

The film begins with the engagement of Tsukasa (Jun Matsumoto), heir to the Domyoji empire, to homely but feisty bourgeois girl Tsukushi (Mao Inoue). The scene is set for a jetting-setting adventure with trappings of a Bond movie (without the sex) when Tsukushi's wedding gift -- a diamond tiara -- is stolen. The hunt for the Domyoji heirloom takes them across Las Vegas, Hong Kong and a South Pacific island. There is plenty going to keep one occupied.

The trials of eating authentic American hamburgers and being wafted to a beach paradise strengthen their devotion and makes Tsukasa transform from an intolerably spoiled, belligerent and conceited prat to an intolerably spoiled, belligerent and conceited prat who understands love.

As the film is made by Toho, swanky sets and locations can materialize at the drop of a hat with their high production values. Big sets like a Vegas casino, an ancient Chinese junk or a luxury private jet generate a make-believe air of being in Toyland rather than the real world.

In the TV series, Tsukasa's buddies who form the Flower Four (aka F4) gang with him, cultivate their own styles and add much dramatic interest with their unconventional dating tastes. In the film, they are just good-looking human props to complement the snazzy interiors.

Toho Co. Ltd./TBS/PPM Inc/Shueisha

Cast: Mao Inoue, Jun Matsumoto, Mariko Kaga, Shun Oguri, Tsuyoshi Abe, Matsuda Shota.
Director: Yasuharu Ishii
Screenwriter: Mikio Satake
Based on the manga by Yoko Kamio
Executive producer: Kazuma Hamana
Producers: Katsuaki Setoguchi, Shinichi Miki
Director of photography: Toshiyasu Yamanaka
Production designer: Takuma Hayashi
Music: Kosuke Yamashita
Sales: Toho Co. Ltd.
No rating, 131 minutes