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80 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lost in Tampopo
This romantic comedy owes its inspiration to Tampopo the critically acclaimed, gently quirky Japanese film about a female mastering the masculine art of ramen noodle soup making. Brittany Murphy is really quite good as a rudderless 20-something American abandoned in Toyko by her boyfriend. She happens upon a ramen shop and is inspired to master the art of making the...
Published on May 30, 2009 by Judith Johnson

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30 of 41 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Sporadically Engaging Fish-Out-Of-Water Story That Needs a Better Director
My experience tells me that it is not a good sign if a film with a big-name star receives only a limited theatrical release before disappearing without a trace. The star I am talking about is NOT Brittany Murphy - though she is top-billed in "The Ramen Girl" - it is Japanese actor Toshiyuki Nishida. The respected veteran is famous for his hugely successful movie franchise...
Published on September 18, 2009 by Tsuyoshi


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80 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lost in Tampopo, May 30, 2009
This review is from: The Ramen Girl (DVD)
This romantic comedy owes its inspiration to Tampopo the critically acclaimed, gently quirky Japanese film about a female mastering the masculine art of ramen noodle soup making. Brittany Murphy is really quite good as a rudderless 20-something American abandoned in Toyko by her boyfriend. She happens upon a ramen shop and is inspired to master the art of making the perfect Ramen soup. There is a lot of attention to detail in set design and costume, although Ms. Murphy's shoes are probably not what kitchen help would really wear to put in a 12-hour day.

The Ramen Girl has some subtitles due to its authentic Japanese cast which lend the feel of an art house flick. Another nice touch is a soup making competition in which actor Tsutomu Yamazaki, who was the truck driving mentor in Tampopo, turns in a comic turn as the judge of the soup making competition. I believe this movie has enough charm to appeal to a wide range of viewers and if you really like it, hey, check out Tampopo as well.
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ramen Girl I love this movie!, January 21, 2010
This review is from: The Ramen Girl (DVD)
As and American after living in Japan for almost 4 years and opening my own restaurant there I can totally relate to this movie. It is very realistic and true to life if an American would cook ramen in Japan. The personalities of the shop owners are portrayed to the "T" The humor is true to life as well. You don't need to have lived in Japan to understand and appreciate that their culture is not unlike this movie portrays. The wife wanting to become close to Abbey and siding with her and the shop owner and his tough exterior, drinking habits and loathe of Abbey in the beginning shows that most older Japanese men truely do not show their emotions and are very guarded with them as well as their secrets. Once you get to know the charactors and understand them the appreciation for this movie grows by leaps and bounds. Even in this day and age to befriend a Japanese national you must prove yourself to the fullest extent humanly possible and once you have broken the ice you have a friend/family for a lifetime. This movie depicts this very clearly and shows both sides of what it is like to be an American in Japan as well as being Japanese and having foreigners living among you.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Old world Japan, March 26, 2011
This review is from: The Ramen Girl (DVD)
I'm half Japanese and lived in rural Japan until I was 13. this film struck a cord with me.... true to life in the characters, accurate Japanese, and deep truths about the Japanese heart. I loved the scene with the ramen sensei's mother. as mentioned in other reviews, I found the very Chinese music annoying-but the noodle shop sign says chinese noodles, so we'll let that slide. if you've spent any time in Japan, you'll appreciate this film. Just remember to look below the surface.
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30 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "A bowl of ramen is a self-contained universe", January 31, 2010
This review is from: The Ramen Girl (DVD)
The late Brittany Murphy shines in this heartwarming movie about self-discovery. Abby (Murphy) moves to Japan to be with her boyfriend but when she gets dumped, she finds herself in a fix. Unwilling to return to the States, thinking she still has a chance to make it up with her BF, Abby finds a new purpose in the ramen place across the street from her apartment. One rainy night, a despondent Abby wanders into the ramen shop after closing, and starts weeping. The chef Maezumi (Toshiyuki Nishida) and his wife are puzzled as they can't speak English and Abby can't converse in Japanese, so they offer some ramen to comfort her. It does that and more - inspired by the wonderful taste of the ramen, Abby is seized by a sudden desire to learn how to cook ramen, and like an annoying gnat, keeps harassing the chef until he finally takes her on as his apprentice - but not without giving her a really hard time (Abby's initial duties include cleaning the kitchen and the dirty toilets as well as waiting on tables).

The heated exchanges between Abby and Maezumi make for great entertainment- Maezumi as played by Nishida is an irascible taskmaster, who hides a lot of pain beneath his prickly demeanor. Abby, portrayed brilliantly by Murphy, is an initially naive, lost soul trying to find a purpose in life, and struggles to adapt to a foreign environment - not speaking Japanese doesn't help either. There is also a cast of secondary characters, such as the American woman who works as a call girl/mistress, the handsome, young Japanese executive who forms a relationship with Abby, the chef's wife, and a few eccentric regulars at the ramen place. The story does not get overly sappy, and the story, though predictable, is not without a couple of twists. The story might not be original, but it certainly is well-cast and the leads make this an engaging watch. I took away one star because I felt some of the secondary characters deserved more development, e.g. the call girl/mistress who just disappears half-way through the movie. On the whole, this is an interesting, and uplifting drama about searching for one's path in life, and showcases Brittany Murphy's acting talents to good effect. The movie is in both Japanese and English, with a lot of Japanese dialogue accompanied by English subtitles. Also recommended for those who'd like to watch another ramen-themed movie is Tampopo, a highly-entertaining movie.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars it made me teary!, September 25, 2011
By 
Len (Connecticut USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Ramen Girl (DVD)
It didn't seem like a movie to do it, but this film choked me up. Brittany Murphy is terrific (if not a bit weepy herself) as a lost soul who finds inner strength and a self-awareness through the Japanese ethos of committing to one thing and doing it incredibly well. The engine of her journey is of course ramen making, but it could be anything that one must commit to not just with mind, but with heart to succeed. There are many wonderful sequences in this film, as when Abby and her grumpy sensei visit his mother to learn to reconnect with cooking from your heart; when the stoic grandmaster passes judgement on Abby's ramen through a series of understated gestures and facial contortions, and when Abby metaphorically "puts her tears" into her ramen and, so doing, brings her customers into cathartic states of sobbing.

I think you'll like this film if you're a fan of Japanese culture, or a foodie, or just like small films or Brittany Murphy. It's a quirky delightful winner.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No awards but worth a watch, October 8, 2009
This review is from: The Ramen Girl (DVD)
Others have provided more in-depth reviews of this movie, The Ramen Girl, so I won't bother trying (not my forte anyhow). I thought it was fun, sweet, moving, a little silly at times, insightful, and just a really good watch. I truly appreciated the lack of four letter words that most movies seem to get more than their share of these days. I did watch the alternate ending in the Special Features too and think the right decision was made to use the one that was included with the movie. I really love watching Brittany Murphy - she's cute, a great funny girl, serious when she needs to be. But even though, here in America at least, she was the most recognizable actor in the film, I thought all of the actors were really good and certainly integral to the film. Brittany blended into a fun cast, and they all shined together. That's my two-cents! I plan to buy this DVD.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brittany Murphy is Superb!, August 27, 2010
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This review is from: The Ramen Girl (DVD)
Brittany Murphy is superb in Ramen Girl. I received this movie as a birthday gift and had never heard of it. Somehow it didn't get a lot of publicity and I cannot remember it being at the theatre. RAMEN GIRL is a beautiful, artistic movie filmed in New York and Japan. I absolutely fell in love with this film and have watched it several times already. Brittany is a beautiful actress and I guarantee you will fall in love with The Ramen Girl. It is truly a shame that such a young, lovely, talented actress such as Brittany had such a short life and career. RIP, dear Brittany, you will always live on in my heart. <3
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30 of 41 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Sporadically Engaging Fish-Out-Of-Water Story That Needs a Better Director, September 18, 2009
By 
Tsuyoshi (Kyoto, Japan) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Ramen Girl (DVD)
My experience tells me that it is not a good sign if a film with a big-name star receives only a limited theatrical release before disappearing without a trace. The star I am talking about is NOT Brittany Murphy - though she is top-billed in "The Ramen Girl" - it is Japanese actor Toshiyuki Nishida. The respected veteran is famous for his hugely successful movie franchise "Tsuribaka Nisshi," but perhaps some might remember him as the "Pigsy" of Japanese TV series "Monkey." Despite his name, the film never received wide theatrical release in Japan. This is quite unusual - imagine a Tom Hanks movie released only in LA and you know what I mean - and the reason is simple. "The Ramen Girl" is not very good.

Brittany Murphy is Abby, who has followed her boyfriend Ethan (Gabriel Mann) from America. Ethan leaves her, however, and shocked Abby is attracted to the bright light nearby her apartment room. It is a small ramen shop run by a headstrong master Maezumi (Nishida), and Abby, looking for a new way of life, decides to work at the shop to learn the art of cooking. Naturally Maezumi refuses, but persistent Abby wouldn't leave and the shop master reluctantly agrees.

Certainly the storyline is forced, but not without potential. I don't think stubborn master like Maezumi, who has been doing his job for more than forty years, would take Abby (or anyone else, American or not) as a pupil so easily, but Nishida is a talented actor, very good at comedy, so the film still had a chance.

Alas, the director never allows him to do what he can do. Not surprisingly, grumpy Maezumi yells at Brittany Murphy's Abby, who is not a fast learner, but the film is no fun to watch as it lacks humor and pathos that this kind of story needs. This is not the wall-painting training of wise Miyagi-san in "The Karate Kid" which has a meaning in it. Maezumi's pointless "training" (like Abby scrubbing a toilet bowl) doesn't convince us.

Abby's character is also a problem. The idea of a broken-hearted American woman who wants to learn ramen cooking is not very credible. Moreover, the film never gives her a real trial. It takes a lot of effort and tenacity to acquire skills of ramen cooking (or any kind of cooking for that matter), but the dialogue-ridden film never gives her a chance to show her cooking prowess. What she has to learn is explained away simply with a word "tamashii" or soul. And a teardrop, too.

"The Ramen Girl" is helmed by Brooklyn-born Emmy-winning director Robert Allan Ackerman, who has also directed plays in Tokyo many times. The film's screenplay is written by Becca Topol, who, according to the film's home page, spent one year in Japan while studying in college. As to the production design of the ramen shop and the owner's house, it is perfect. You can find such small ramen shops around the corner anywhere in Japan.

However, the film, it seems, misses every opportunity to use their knowledge about the country and its culture. Cooking ramen plays a significant role as metaphor in the film, but in "The Ramen Girl" somehow you don't see the details of ramen cooking they should know. How did Abby learn the skills? How did the master teach her?

There is nice supporting acting from Kimiko Yo as Maezumi's wife, and Tsutomu Yamazaki as the grand ramen master (both actors seen in "Departures"), but the lagging pace of the film doesn't change. Subplots about the characters played by Tammy Blanchard and Sohee Park are so weak and forgettable.

The film needs a more capable director and writer, who can create a cinematically dynamic narrative development, or more credible story and characters. This is s huge disappointment for me. "The Ramen Girl" could have been a much more engaging drama with someone else as director. Toshiyuki Nishida, one of the best actors in Japan, deserves a better film than this.

By the way, there is really a "Ramen Museum" in Yokohama.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's a Soup-er Movie, November 7, 2013
By 
This review is from: Ramen Girl (Amazon Instant Video)
It's an enjoyable film, although the main character is not very sympathetic and it becomes a tale of cultural appropriation. However, all the acting is excellent, especially of the ramen cook, who gives a splendid performance.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Different kind of comedy, January 4, 2014
This review is from: Ramen Girl (Amazon Instant Video)
Cute movie and very funny. Subtitles are where the humor lies. If you need a comedy to watch give it a try.
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Ramen Girl
Ramen Girl by Robert Allan Ackerman
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