REVIEW: People Just Do Nothing: Big In Japan (2021)
“Kurupt FM. The rest are irrelevant.”
The Kurupt FM boys have had quite a journey. From humble beginnings uploading episodes to their YouTube channel to getting picked up by BBC Three and enjoying a five-series run (27 episodes from 2014 – 2018), winning a BAFTA in the process, and now heading to Japan for their very own film. Allan Mustafa and Steve Stamp likely never imagined that their little Brentford-based mockumentary would find a cult following and find the success it has.
At the end of the final series, MC Grindah (Allan Mustafa) and his family were forced to move to Essex and leave Brentford and all their friends behind – meaning the end of Kurupt FM, a pirate radio station he ran with his friends Beats (Hugo Chegwin), Steves (Steve Stamp), and Decoy (Daniel Sylvester Woolford) for the past 15 years. The film picks up three years later as Kurupt’s ‘manager’ Chabuddy G (Asim Chaudhry) is made aware that one of their tracks is a huge hit in Japan on one of their most popular gameshows. Because of its popularity, the Kurupt boys are flown out to Tokyo by a company that wants to promote them and the track with a week filled with promos and ending with a huge concert. Excited that they’re finally getting the recognition they’re well overdue, the boys drop their day jobs and prepare to drop some lyrical blows to the people of Japan.
Not wanting to be left out of the international shenanigans, Grindah’s wife Michelle, AKA Lady Miche (Lily Brazier), books herself a ticket to join the boys out in Tokyo so that she can help her bubby handle all the fame heading his way, whilst keeping all her Instagram followers in the loop in the process. “You do need to be there to support your partner. You know, it’s important. Even if they don’t want you there.” she tells the camera crew.
Taking the Kurupt boys out of West London was a risk for this film because Brentford isn’t just a backdrop for the show, it’s the heart of it. The characters that call it home and that easily could have been lost in this film. However, if flying the boys over to Japan proved anything it’s that you can take the boys out of Brentford, but you can’t take Brentford out of the boys. Watching the five of them experience a new country and culture brings a lot of laughs – from Steves struggling with Shibuya Crossing to them trying traditional Japanese cuisine and then hunting down the nearest McDonalds.
There’s always a worry when TV shows make an attempt to leap to the big screen that they’ll lose that spark that makes the show so special but thankfully, People Just Do Nothing effortlessly maintains its charm and likeability on the big screen, and this is down to Mustafa and Stamp’s ingenious writing and the love they have for all of these characters. The pair never lose sight of the humour and the traits that people love about the show, and having the series’ director Jack Clough return behind the camera for the film made it feel just like an extended episode of the show, in the best way possible.
Simple shots like having the gang sit on a stairway to talk to the camera just like they do back in Brentford are a nice touch. Whilst they’re usually crammed into a grimey and graffiti-covered stairwell in the block of flats that used to home their pirate radio station, they’re now sat in their tracksuits and caps surrounded by the hustle and bustle of Tokyo. Little things like this help the film maintain a certain TV-level groundedness, which is exactly what this film needed to do. Shooting the film any differently than its perfectly structured mockumentary form would have meant it would have lost a part of itself that makes it so brilliant.
As they did throughout the show’s run, the cast delivers such brilliant and believable performances that it’s easy to forget that they are actually characters. The whole cast are all close friends in real life and this is an element that is key to the show’s success because their chemistry and banter whilst in character are so flawless that you’d be forgiven for thinking you were watching a documentary and not a mockumentary.
The BBC recently released a brilliant documentary about the show ahead of the film’s release which is a great insight into how the show was made, how these characters came about, and just how big of an impact they’ve had on British television. It’s currently available on BBC iPlayer and it’s well worth a watch if you’re an old or even a new fan of the show.
With brilliant quips, commentary, and of course, a banging soundtrack, Big in Japan is a successful return for the Kurupt gang, even if it is only for a short while. Its 97-minute runtime means the boys don’t overstay their welcome and no time is wasted getting the boys to Tokyo. Mustafa and Stamp know exactly what they wanted this film to be and it’s everything a People Just Do Nothing fan could want, and then some – from Chabuddy trying to hustle his way around Tokyo, to Beats and Steves’ beautiful duet of The Streets’ ‘Dry Your Eyes Mate’.
If this is the last time we see the Kurupt FM boys together then they’ve gone out on a high.
People Just Do Nothing: Big In Japan is out now on digital and available on Blu-ray™ and DVD 22nd November from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.
Directed by: Jack Clough
Written by: Allan Mustafa, Steve Stamp
Cast: Allan Mustafa, Steve Stamp, Asim Chaudry, Hugo Chegwin, Daniel Sylvester Woolford, Lily Brazier