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We here at JPFmovies had the pleasure of getting a first-hand entertainment perspective from an expatriate who splits time between the US and Japan. It was a very interesting conversation and, as a tribute to our mutual love of Japanese media, let’s take a look at a series known as Bengoshi no Kuzu, loosely translated as Scum of Lawyers (2006).

As anyone who follows the JPFmovies site knows, we have a certain affinity for Asian entertainment, firmly believing that Hollywood has lost its creativity and sold out to the lowest common denominator of film viewers. Whereas over the past couple years we’ve seen what’s been known as “riding the Korean wave,” referring to the fine entertainment coming out of South Korea as well as Japan and Hong Kong—Asia’s contributions to what has become, in our opinion, a superior form of entertainment.  We firmly intend to express the downfall of Hollywood Cinema as we know it at the 2018 Raspberry Awards, where we will vote on the worst movies made by Hollywood in numerous categories. But more on that later. Let’s get to the show.

 

Like many Japanese TV shows and films, Bengoshi no Kuzu is based on a manga.  What sets this drama, or should we say comedy drama, about the practice of law apart from your typical series glorifying the legal profession (which in reality is a grind), is that in the Scum of Lawyers, the main character will do just about anything if it means he can win.  This guy is a high school drop-out, lover of money, booze, and women, and has a rude demeanor and a vulgar mouth.  He has a totally different perspective on the law, and more importantly justice, in that he believes that lawyers aren’t on the side of justice, the law isn’t meant to punish people, it’s meant to save them! At least, that’s this guy’s secret motto. This back-alley lawyer seems to know all the scams and has to take on the firm’s new associate, who works his way through a number of cases, which proves that the scum bag attorney’s theory is right in the end.  By ferreting out these cons, that both plaintiffs and defendants are trying to use the legal system for, he opens his naïve associate’s eyes as to what Justice can really mean.

It is especially interesting to watch him go up against blue chip law firms while picking his nose in their conference rooms, only to expose his opponent’s client’s veiled attempt to somehow cheat the system and, more importantly, his client.  Perhaps what makes this scum bag lawyer’s intuition so keen is that he is in fact a (or at least a reformed) con artist who hasn’t left many of his bad habits behind him: he loves gambling, money, women, booze, and pretty much any other vice you can think, of he’s got his finger in it.  Being able to understand the scammer’s mind obviously gives him the edge he needs to win cases.  He practically falls asleep in court while waiting to cross-examine his opponent because he has already figured out what their devious, self-serving testimony is going to be and has a plan to expose it.  And during about half of his meetings with clients or opposing counsel, he is as hung over as a sailor back from shore leave.

See the following clip for an example of the scum lawyer figuring out his own client’s deception in order to get a novel she wrote published, which was plagiarized by an actress/model because his client was “attractive.”  It was a very sophisticated plot indeed—but con artists think alike.

The show, however is not only about him. The senior partner of the firm is a children’s and human rights advocate who gives the firm a veneer of respectability, and there is the competent hard-working experienced female attorney that our young associate often looks to for guidance while he is stuck in these moral quagmires that the scum bag has got them into.

There are also some support staff who allow selective sexual harassment and generally add to the humor of the show.  The show ran for about 12 episodes and all of them were good.  If you get a chance, watch Scum of Lawyers. It is a nice change of pace from your typical legal drama.

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2017 in Movie Reviews

 

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Harvey Birdman Attorney at Law–Watch it even if you don’t like it it is only 12 minutes wasted.

Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law features ex-superhero Harvey T. Birdman of Birdman and the Galaxy Trio as a second rate attorney working for a law firm alongside other cartoon stars from the various 1960’s and 1970’s Hanna-Barbera cartoon series.  Harvey’s clients are also characters taken from the Hanna-Barbera series of the same era.  Many of Birdman’s nemeses featured that were featured in the original cartoon series are also often opposing counsel throughout the various cases. 

 

Harvey usually fills the role of a criminal defense attorney, though he will act as a civil litigator or other such job when the plot calls for it.  The series uses a surrealist style of comedy, featuring characters, objects, and jokes that are briefly introduced and rarely (if ever) referenced thereafter.  Also, because the series relies heavily on pop culture references to classic television animation, Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law constantly delves into parody, even featuring clips of these series or specially-created scenes which mimic the distinctive style of the animation being referenced.  Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law is the first Williams Street cartoon to maintain continuity through the entire series.  Various episodes reference Harvey’s (or another superhero’s) former crime fighting career.

 

Instead of rigid plot structure, much of the humor is derived from the fact that superheroes and super villains are realistic and have human qualities, such as a mad scientist named Dr. Myron Reducto, who is a paranoid prosecutor obsessed with shrinking people with his ray gun.  Also, several of the plots revolve around the popular myths about classic Hanna-Barbera characters, such as Shaggy and Scooby-Doo being stoners.

 

The episodes are only 12 minutes each and are packed with absurd jokes and satire which makes the time fly by.  The show adds a layer of humor by reminding us of how the old cartoons used to be.  The comedy is great on so many levels that anyone can watch an episode and simply laugh the whole time.

In addition to the great writing, the voice cast is surprisingly famous.  Gary Cole (Bill Lunberg from Office Space “if you could just.  …  that would be great”) is the voice of Birdman and plays opposite Stephen Colbert (“The Daily Show”) who is Birdman’s utterly insane boss, Phil Ken Sebben.

Volume One has arguably the best episodes of the entire run including the Bannon Custody Battle—where Dr. Benton Quest and Race Bannon are portrayed as gay and fight for custody of Jonny Quest and his Indian sidekick—totally outrageous.  Shaggy and Scooby get busted for evading the police and possession of marijuana and Booboo is accused of being the Unabomber and that is just for a starters.  There is even an episode “Turner Classic Birdman” is even hosted by none other than Robert Osborn—host of the real Turner Classic Movies.  The clips are of entire episodes of the show so enjoy.

Adult Swim (which aired Birdman) has one hell of a creative staff.  Watch Birdman, even if you don’t like it, it is only a 12 minute investment of your time.

 
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Posted by on June 7, 2011 in Movie Reviews

 

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