Post-war pragmatism combines with a nostalgic hue to create innocuous viewing in Japanese family pic “Gabai Granny.” Based on the autobiographical novel of Japanese comedian Yoshichi Shimada (the other half of Takeshi Kitano’s original comedy double-act), film looks set for good local biz on release in June. Novel’s popularity could also propel it into South Korea and Taiwan, but elsewhere this will sit most comfortably in kiddie sidebars at festivals.
When his bar-hostess mother (Youki Kudoh) finds it a struggle to support her two sons, 7-year-old Akihiro (Soma Ikeda) is whisked away from Hiroshima to small-town Saga to live with his grandmother (Kazuko Yoshiyuki). Dirt poor herself, granny teaches Akihiro practical life skills and the lesson that poverty does not have to mean misery. Helming betrays Hitoshi Kurauchi’s extensive TV experience, though veteran actress Yoshiyuki catches the right tone as the titular “super-granny” and the three boys (Ikeda, Koshin Ikeda, Youma Suzuki) who play Akihiro at age 7, 10 and 14 are all charming. Tech credits have an efficient TV polish.