Chopstick Cinema

Celeste Heiter's Adventures in Asian Food & Film

About Gung Ho

Chopstick Cinema

This Week's Film: Gung Ho
Cuisine: Japanese

For a relatively obscure film, Gung Ho comes with quite a pedigree. It was directed by Ron Howard, best known for his childhood role as Opie Taylor on the Andy Griffith Show and his adolescent roles as Richie Cunningham in Happy Days, and as Steve Bolander in American Graffiti. Since his days of freckles and tousled strawberry hair, Ron Howard has come into his own as a director and producer of such noteworthy films as Cocoon, Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind, The Da Vinci Code, and most recently, one of this year’s Oscar nominees, Frost/Nixon.

Also to its credit, Gung Ho features the screenwriting of Lowell Ganz, whose credits include Multiplicity, City Slickers, A League of Their Own, and Mr. Saturday Night. And the original music was composed by Thomas Newman, who has won critical acclaim for his work on many of my favorite films, including Finding Nemo, Erin Brockovich, The Green Mile, American Beauty, Shawshank Redemption, Scent of a Woman, Fried Green Tomatoes, and Desperately Seeking Susan.

And who doesn’t love Michael Keaton for his unforgettable roles in Multiplicity, Batman & Batman Returns, Pacific Heights, Beetle Juice, and Mr. Mom, to name only a few. In Gung Ho, Keaton plays Hunt Stevenson, an all-American hometown guy who travels to Japan to convince a Japanese automaker to reopen the factory in the town of Hadleyville, which has been in a steady state of economic decay since the plant stopped production and closed its doors.

With Ron Howard, Lowell Ganz, Thomas Newman, Michael Keaton, and Gedde Watanabe, who have all crossed paths at one time or another in their cinematic careers in such productions as Happy Days, Parenthood, Splash, Night Shift, and Edtv, the film credits of Gung Ho also read like a close-knit version of the Kevin Bacon Game, who by the way, starred in Apollo 13 and Frost Nixon, which were both directed by Ron Howard. The film also features good supporting performances by Mimi Rogers, John Turturro, and especially George Wendt.

Gung Ho was filmed in Beaver, Pennsylvania, but in the film the town was called Hadleyville, which, by the way, was the name of the town in High Noon. A short-lived spin-off television comedy, also called Gung Ho, featured many of the actors from the movie. Originally titled Working Class Man, the film and its soundtrack, also titled Working Class Man features the musical talent of The Fabulous Thunderbirds and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Gung Ho has a runtime of 111 minutes. Full details on Gung Ho, including lots if interesting trivia, are available on IMDb.

My film review will be posted at the end of the week, along with my Toshikoshi Noodle recipe.

For questions or comments send e-mail to cheiter at thingsasian dot com