NOTE: Here is my review from Soda & Telepaths that was posted back on August 25, 2021
Being evicted from your home is never a good thing, and for the Sosaya family it feels particularly devastating as they are being evicted from a rather luxurious home. The daughter of the family, Akane (Mayu Ozawa), has decided that if they’re going to be leaving their home, their Wonderful Paradise as it were, then she’s going to throw one final party.
After sending out a tweet to alert people of the event, slowly the yard is turned into a carnival filled with everyone from ex-family members to a gay couple looking for a wedding to a cyclist going across Japan and even a couple of ghosts… and that’s just the people, we haven’t even begun to deal with the coffee bean kaiju monster that’s slowly growing in the coffee shop that just appeared inside the house.
Calling Wonderful Paradise a strange film would be to understate matters, this film is fucking weird beyond all possible description and feels like a madlib played by someone who ingested every drug known to man and started describing the things they found around their apartment… and it’s kind of amazing.
The weirdness is, admittedly, slow to kick in. Wonderful Paradise is borderline normal for the first 20 minutes or so, until the monk in the courtyard praying to a statue that is objectively not Buddha as though it was a statue of Buddha becomes more prominent and goes crazy before ‘dying’ for the first time (This character will die many times in this film)… that’s your first warning that you’re in for a weird time.
Any semblance of a coherent narrative is soon thrown away in favour of escalating strangeness that is almost charming before you end up just sitting back and smiling, impressed that someone had the nerve to not only write this stuff down but get someone to pay to have it put on screen. It was roughly around the time that I saw a young child swing on a swing set so much that they turned into a large stick that I realised this one might be beyond any ability to think critically.
I’m absolutely certain that there’s some stuff here that’s a deep cultural critique that makes sense if you’re familiar with the culture in question and can parse it out… sadly it’s hard for me to explain the cultural meaning behind a giant coffee bean kaiju monster with tentacles causing devastation on a small backyard party because I was too busy cackling like a banshee at that image.
Every couple of minutes the film delights in throwing out another weird piece of imagery that is practically inexplicable, and yet weirdly follows logically from what came before. I do not know how you go from “Family packing their house up” to “Coffee bean kaiju battling a statue” so the journey between the two actually kind of makes sense as you’re watching it, but Wonderful Paradise pulled that off. Yeah, everything is wild and weird and batshit crazy but it’s a weirdness that grows naturally (or as close to naturally as you can get in a movie that involves people swapping ice picks that’ve been thrust into their necks).
Wonderful Paradise is not a film for everyone, its wild absurdist nature is going to push some people away… but if you wanna see a film that’s just weird as hell and revels in every second of its uncontrollable weirdness then this is worth a look. It’s the kind of film where you can’t describe what’s happened even if you try (and oh boy did I try) but you know you’ve seen something unlike anything you’ve seen before. It’s an absolute original, we can certainly say that much.