Tampopo (1985)

Tampopo (1985)

A bemusing delicious food comedy dubbed as the first Ramen Western

The Very Best

9.0

Movie

Japan
Japanese
Comedy
1985
JŪZŌ ITAMI
Akio Tanaka, Chōei Takahashi, Fukumi Kuroda
115 min

TLDR

This reminds me of that one weird, yet oddly relaxing dream where I was laying down on a mattress sized chashu pork slice, floating in a river of ramen broth, and my hair was made of soba noodles. Good times. Not for the squeamish.

What it's about

A milk truck driver helps a struggling widow noodle shop owner to cook great ramen, while other customers explore different appetites in different vignettes.

The take

While billed as a “ramen western”, Tampopo satirizes plenty of other American genres, including, but not limited to: 1) the inspirational sports film, with Tampopo’s diligent training, 2) the erotic, arthouse drama through its egg yolk kiss, 3) the witty, social comedy pointing out the absurd in dinnertime tables, and 4) the melodramatic mafia romance with its room-serviced hotel getaway. But the film doesn’t buckle under the weight of carrying all these genres– instead, the customer vignettes are all delicately plated to balance out the hearty journey of a store owner learning about ramen and the bemused, yet cohesive contemplation about food. Tampopo is one of a kind.

What stands out

The food, of course. It really makes you hungry to see ramen being meticulously plated, but from the very first moment, Tampopo makes you contemplate about food, even the very snacks you’re eating while watching this movie.

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