Tokyo Godfathers (2003)

Rotten Tomatoes has a list up of the top 25 Christmas movies. I was embarrassed to count six we hadn't seen. However, only one was in the top ten: Tokyo Godfathers. Well, Christmas miracles being what they are, that was actually available on Netflix streaming (and subtitled, no less). Naturally, we decided to give it a shot.

This is a Japanese animated movie about three homeless people who come across an abandoned infant on Christmas Eve and set out on a quest to find its parents. On the way, we uncover what brought them to the streets. One is a drunken gambler, the second a drag queen, and the third is a young runaway.

There's no shortage of social commentary stemming from the fact the world dismisses them as trash, but I didn't find it preachy. The drag queen is used as comic relief at times, and there's more than a little stereotyping here. Nonetheless, the character is cast in a very favorable light. Be aware there a few moments that might make you cringe, but the filmmakers do right by the character in the end.

The movie crosses over about a half dozen genres. I can easily imagine it described as a comedy, drama, mystery, crime story, holiday classic, satire, or a cartoon, depending on who's looking at it. It doesn't just contain elements of these genres: all of them run through the entire film, somehow without interfering with the others. That's an impressive feat.

The writing is topnotch, and the characters are all intricately developed. It's a beautiful piece; definitely worth checking out.