“The Ramen Girl” loads up on cinematic MSG


A movie called The Ramen Girl is obviously a joke, right? Or, maybe it’s a documentary about my college years when for $2 I could live on Top Ramen for a week. But no and no — it’s not a joke and it’s definitely not about the culinary habits of destitute students. Instead, it’s a real film starring Brittany Murphy as an American girl who moves to Tokyo with her boyfriend, gets dumped and then decides to become a master ramen chef.

That documentary idea is sounding a lot better about now, isn’t it?

As you let the realities of a movie called The Ramen Girl sink in, please let the trailer further bewilder you with dialogue like, “I want to cook ramen.” Once again, and I cannot stress this enough, I am not making this up.

Wow, where to start? Comparisons will no doubt be drawn to the 1985 cinematic culinary masterpiece Tampopo, which also centered around ramen. But I get much more of a low-rent Lost in Translation meets The Karate Kid with noodles feel from The Ramen Girl.

The film follows the formula of a wise, cranky Asian master who teaches a naïve, young American protégé the ways of the Far East. They even have the stereotypical bowing confusion, pronunciation correction and faux inspirational scenes. And just like Ralph Macchio learned that karate came from the heart, Brittany seems to learn that ramen comes from the spirit. Well, that and apparently your tears.

So, something tells me this movie will have the same effect as eating an entire Top Ramen flavor packet: dry mouth, headaches and possible nausea.

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