You know how when you kick a guy's head off, and it doesn't go as far as you thought, or the hair flops in a silly way, and it just doesn't feel as good as it should have?
That's exactly how I feel when I see a movie that I should have loved but didn't.
I'm not saying I'm wrong to dislike it. Like all critics, I have a perfect track record of cinematic judgment.
I'm talking about movies that should appeal to everything you find great, but leave you sitting there like a confused, grumpy stone. That's how I felt watching 2007's Big Man Japan.
Hitoshi Matsumoto seems like a strange, muddled man, but he has a unique responsibility: fighting off the weirdo monsters who attack Japan by turning into a colossal muscleman.
Shot documentary style, Big Man Japan doesn't even reveal Matsumoto's job for a solid 20 minutes.
Is it fun to watch an addled dimwit ramble into the camera for the length of a sitcom episode before anything happens? Interview me in a bar sometime and you'll discover the answer is no. No, it isn't.
The odd thing is if you heard a summary of the movie's virtues, it'd sound like a work of genius so compelling you would compress your own children into motor oil just to be able to drive down the street to snag a copy.
It's got bizarre, disturbingly rendered, building-sized monsters such as a leaping head on a leg and Child Monster, a giant harmless baby. It's got tragic family drama. And it addresses the long-dodged question of how, when you transform into a werewolf or Hulk out, your pants will still fit you.
Yet for all that, watching Big Man Japan left me as unmoved as the half-drank bottle of grape soda your girlfriend forgot on your dresser the day she walked out on you.
Matsumoto, who directed and cowrote, has an absurdist style that's unafraid to make no sense at all.
This works for some people, but for me, it felt completely at odds with the underlying and understated tragedy, sapping it of any weight. Between that and the meandering plot, I couldn't connect.
It's frustrating to see a great concept and a great story fizzle away to little more than surreal fights and special effects, especially when Matsumoto's talent is clearly as big as the purple Speedo he wears to battle his enormous foes.
Despite that, I can see watching it again someday, maybe even changing my tune. Big Man Japan is the rare movie I'd recommend checking out even though I couldn't wait for it to end.
* Contact Ed Robertson at firstname.lastname@example.org