Just like how Brittany Murphy's Abby finds it almost impossible to make that perfect bowl of ramen because her lack of heart translated to a bland broth, so too does the film suffer from the same lack of feeling in order to transcend yet another Westernized production of Eastern exoticness, this time in the form of food. Murphy tried her best to become adorable, but I would like to think that feminist everywhere would likely be up in arms against her whiny character whose life had fallen apart just because her boyfriend had dumped her in one of the most happening capital cities in the world, Japan.
It's quite random for her to find her calling in learning to make ramen from master chef Maezumi (played by Toshiyuki Nishida), who is playing his role according to formula as the mean-spirited man who can't understand his new protege. It's a little bit bewildered in the sense that the film made a conscious decision not to allow proper communication between master and student, thereby leaving some room for chicken-and-duck-talk gags which run out of steam midway.
Many subplots get thrown around like crowding your bowl of noodle with too much unnecessary ingredients, The Ramen Girl has a number of characters, most notable being the short appearance of Tsutomu Yamazaki of the recent Departures and The Climber's High fame, whose sheer presence lifts the movie up a little bit. Otherwise, you're more than likely to endure this mess for the real deal at a Japanese restaurant near you.
You can read my review of The Ramen Girl at movieXclusive.com by clicking on the logo below.