Linda Linda Linda

“When we grow up,” the girls from The Blue Hearts chant enthusiastically, “we won’t stop being kids.”

I love Japanese pop, Japanese all-girl bands, and Japanese films, and Nobuhiro Yamashita’s ‘Linda Linda Linda manages to encompass all three in a pretty, disposable, easily digested package.

When Son, a Korean exchange student, is recruited to replace the regular singer in a Japanese high-school band, the girls think they are doomed to bring shame and embarrassment upon themselves at their high school’s annual pageant. The girls can’t sing, can’t seem to play their instruments, and can hardly manage to stay awake through their weekly rehearsals. They do not speak the same language, and do not share the same culture. The one thing they have in common is their love of music, and their infatuation with popular band Jitterin Jin and their big hit, “Linda Linda Linda.”

The story is nothing special-it has been told a million different ways, in a million different films, using different stars and the same old format. It is the rise of the underdog, the revenge of the nerds. Bae Doona, Yu Kashii, Aki Maeda, and Shiori Sekine make up the film’s charming cast, and their overly cute characters ring true, while the story falls a bit short of being even entertaining.

The film’s grace-what makes it special and worth seeing-is the catchy soundtrack by former Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha. The girls’ rock anthem will resound in your ears long after the movie has ended, and like it or not, you will find yourself standing in the subway, at the supermarket, or in the lineup at other, better movies, singing softly to yourself “Linda Linda … Linda Linda Linda” … Iha! (Andree Lachapelle)

Dir. Nobuhiro Yamashita