What's a rural Japanese town do when the coal mine closes? Why, build a Hawaiian-themed tourist attraction, of course. It's a charming idea stretched out way too long in Hula Girls. Just as the imported palm trees don't thrive in their new environs, a town full of unemployed coal miners isn't the most fertile ground for the comic frivolity of an imported dance craze. As the girls courageous (or crazy) enough to learn hula stumble slowly through their steps, so does the film—it's one that would have benefited greatly from a Dirty Dancing–esque montage to move things along. And I'd love to hear "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" in Japanese. Unfortunately, '80s-style elevator music permeates each pivotal scene, squelching any emotional reaction (other than a wince). An uplifting finale hews close to The Full Monty formula; perhaps the Brits will do better with a Hula Girls remake.
Supply your own lei joke.
Runs Fri., Sept. 21–Thurs., Sept. 27 at Grand Illusion. Not rated. 110 minutes.