Friday, January 4, 2013

Brittany Murphy in Bimbo Does Tokyo

Coming-of-age films starring bubble-headed bleach-blondes aren't frequently reviewed here. There's a reason for that. Still, Brittany Murphy's Ramen Girl offers travel aficionados some tasty spiritual morsels to tuck into their noodles.

Our platinum hero hops a plane for Tokyo on a traditional chique pilgrimage. Like many sweet and silly young girls, she is seeking the holy grail of a cute boy willing to take a slight pause in his narcissism and fake a slight interest in her.

Can you smell the heartbreak rising in the oven according to a recipe passed from mother to daughter for generations? Can you hear the brutish lovestruck father wailing at the mouth of the protective and/or oppressive cave from which his lovely naive daughter has escaped? Even luxury travel can be quite primal.

Whatever excuse is given the custom official, travel is fundamentally about understanding ourselves and the world. Thus, when bimbo Brittany realizes the jerk is a rat, she gets busy on her own life, rather than remain a groupee hanging on someone else's. The life she chooses is being a ramen chef, under a father figure who not only notices her but cares enough to constantly ridicule and thump her on the head.

Bottom line: humans will choose a bad mentor over drifting along without a mentor nearly every time. People can't thrive without a task (whether saving the environment or boiling the broth) and a tribe (whether genetic family or adopted strangers). An old guy with an office full of books can miss this basic truth, while almost any unjaded girl can teach it to you. Maybe it isn't young women who are the most vulnerable but the rest of us. Old men often defend little girls physically, but little girls often rescue old men spiritually in return.

Brittany may not have been the sharpest knife in the Ramen kitchen and her life sadly ended soon after Ramen Girl was released. Yet, she made a sweet bubbly statement in this movie that everyone can grow on the road, whether shrewd as a serpent or innocent as a dove. Those of us blessed to begin another year would do well to consider her short passionate life and make haste to embrace the world while we still can. Domo arigato, Brittany. Sayonara.

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