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Woo La La (released in Japan as Amai x Kireina) is a 2009 American 3D computer-animated romantic fantasy comedy-drama film produced by Universal Animation Studios for Universal Pictures. The twelfth feature in the Universal Animated Features canon, it was directed by Michael Wildshill from a screenplay by Karey Kirkpatrick and Billy Frolick and a story by Wildshill, Kirkpatrick, and John Cohen, and stars the voices of Matt Damon, Debra Messing, George Takei, Ian McShane, Ken Jeong, Brad Garrett, Gong Li, and Hiroyuki Sanada. Taking place in Tokyo, the film follows young Japanese couple Amai Yamada and Kireina Miyazaki, who try to get away from legendary creatures created by a greedy couple-hating collector named Warui Kobayashi.
Originally developed under the title Nippon, Woo La La was the first Universal animated film to be presented in 3D. The film was first released in North America on March 13, 2009, to critical acclaim and earned $532 million worldwide on a budget of $81 million. A television series based on the film aired on Cartoon Network from October 2011 to April 2013.
Voice cast Edit
- Matt Damon as Amai Yamada, a shy but kind and pampered young man living in an apartment in Tokyo. His name "Amai" (甘い) literally means "sweet". He was an orphan after the death of his parents.
- Jonathan Wildshill as Amai as a child. The voice actor is the director's son.
- Josh Hutcherson as Amai as a teenager.
- Debra Messing as Kireina Miyazaki, an innocent, kind, trustworthy, overprotective, and pretty woman who helps Amai as her boyfriend. Her name "Kireina" (綺麗な) literally means "beautiful".
- George Takei as Warui Kobayashi, a haughty, ruthless, and greedy collector who dislikes couples, especially Amai and Kireina. He brings legendary creatures to life to track down Amai and Kireina. His name "Warui" (悪い) literally means "bad".
- Ian McShane as Chani, an oni-like creature who is the leader of a team of hench-onis. He is one of Warui's henchmen.
- Ken Jeong as Mio, one of Warui's henchmen. Being Warui's henchman is Mio's first job, despite him being only a teenager.
- Brad Garrett as Sumo Gumo, a Sumo wrestler who is one of Warui's henchmen and Mio's partner
- Gong Li as Ying Yamada, the adoptive mother of Amai
- Hiroyuki Sanada as Kabuto
- Julia Kato as Amai's biological mother
- Ken Takemoto as Amai's biological father
- Gedde Watanabe as a sushi chef
- Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa as Cho
- Dee Bradley Baker provided vocal effects for Amai's pet Japanese raccoon dog Mr. Fazu.
- Lori Alan
- John Cygan
- Makoto Endo
- Don Fullilove
- Teresa Ganzel
- Takayuki Gotô
- Gary Hall
- Jess Harnell
- Darren T. Holmes
- Julia Kato
- Karey Kirkpatrick
- Sonoko Konishi
- Jimmy Leung
- Danny Mann
- Mickie McGowan
- Yumi Mizui
- Laraine Newman
- Colleen O'Shaughnessey
- Hiroshi Ohno
- Jan Rabson
- Junichi Uematsu
- Tom F. Warner
- Catherine "Catie" Wayne
- Michael Wildshill
The idea for a film about a Romeo and Juliet-style love story set in Japan was proposed by Michael Wildshill during the production of Universal's 2004 animated film Computeropolis. At the time, Universal encouraged everyone at its feature animation division to come up with ideas for more computer-animated features. Wildshill, then-Universal Feature Animation president John Cohen, and Karey Kirkpatrick developed Wildshill's concept into a story before pitching it to Universal. Universal officially announced the film, under the working title of Nippon, on August 1, 2003. Billy Frolick was contracted to write the script for the film with Kirkpatrick. In May 2005, Universal announced that the film was expected to see a 2008 release.
In September 2006, Universal scheduled the film, now titled Woo La La, for a March 13, 2009 release. According to Wildshill, the new title was a pun on "ooh la la", which means an exclamation of surprise, and "woo", which means to try to gain the love of a woman. Wildshill commented, "We tried to make the film's name a less fun. The title would make a little more sense since this movie we're working on is about two Japanese people falling in love." The Japanese release of the film was titled Amai x Kireina.
The CGI animation for most of the scenes from the movie was done in-house by Universal in Universal City, California, while the hand-drawn animation for the anime sequences was done overseas by Production I.G in Japan and Saerom Animation in South Korea. The sequences that Production I.G and Saerom did are the opening sequence (which is shown after the opening logos but before the opening titles), dream sequences, Amai's flashback sequences, Kireina's flashback sequences, and the ending sequence (with the credits created by Prologue Films and Scarlett Letters).
- Main article: Woo La La/Soundtrack
The score for Woo La La was composed by Hans Zimmer. The soundtrack was released on March 10, 2009 by Varèse Sarabande. Originally, Wildshill wanted Michael Giacchino to compose the music, but he was too busy composing for other feature-length projects, such as Star Trek, Up, and Land of the Lost (all three of which were released in 2009).
Woo La La was released into American theaters on March 13, 2009. Universal Pictures distributed overseas, except in Japan, where distribution was handled by Toho. The film's theatrical release was accompanied by the short film The Sounds of the Ocean.
- The film's teaser trailer was released on July 2, 2008, and was shown before Swapped, Meet Dave, Space Chimps, Heroball, and FusionMania.
- The official theatrical trailer was released on October 3, 2008, and was shown before Beverly Hills Chihuahua, City of Ember, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, Bolt, Twist City, and The Tale of Despereaux.
- TV spots began to air between February and March 2009.
Home media Edit
Woo La La was released on DVD and Blu-ray on September 1, 2009.
Critical reception Edit
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 95% based on 183 reviews with an average rating of 8/10. The site's consensus states: "Woo La La is a bittersweet romantic tale that plays loose with modern Japanese culture, while blending Matt Damon and Debra Messing's charming chemistry into the story's own peak at love's barriers." On Metacritic, the film holds a score of 81 out of 100 based on 46 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A+" on an A+ to F scale.
Box office Edit
Woo La La grossed $215 million in the United States and Canada and $317.4 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $532.4 million.
Reception in Japan Edit
- Main article: Woo La La (TV series)
To see the main transcript of the film, click here.
To see the transcript for the trailers of the film, click here.