Katana Wolf’s Smokin’ on the Moon distracts us with offensive stereotypes. These stereotypes are quotable but quotable characters do not make a movie good. That’s too bad for the leads.
Sota (Arata Iura) is a part time drug dealer. He still lives in a dingy apartment even though he’s in his mid 30’s. He’s the second most responsible character here.
Sota’s roomie Rakuto (Ryo Narita) doesn’t grow into his responsibilities yet. In fact he’s pushing back against adulthood which Sota represents through his disillusionment with the drug trade’s dead ends.
Smokin’ on the Moon also oscillates between a post MTV-era exploitation movie to a melodrama. The shift from the former to the latter is jarring but audiences might like it.
Smokin’ on the Moon appeals to stoners or ex-stoners, who are basically more than 60% of everybody. Most people have their druggie stories but these people also know when to stop.
But the movie doesn’t test these characters’ limits in the best way. And it goes through beats of what happens in movies about friendships. Cue the ‘truth telling’ arguments.
When the film makes Sota and Rakuto’s paths diverge, the latter’s story is more appealing and universal. He eventually follows the former’s dealer footsteps to support his girlfriend (Mary Sara).
That said, the separation also takes away the fun from the film that made it seem ballsy. Rakuto seems perpetually scared while Sota’s back home, his parents basically domesticating him.
One eventually feels comfortable to Rakuto and Sota’s surprisingly touching melodramas. Then in comes the plot point about how the former’s job is part of a conspiracy to screw him.
Again, it’s too bad. Had Wolf done this better, this could hit all the right notes. Besides, this is his first feature and at least he dared to be different.