Woo La La

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Woo La La is a 2009 American computer-animated romantic fantasy film produced by Universal Animation Studios and distributed by Universal Pictures. The film was directed by Michael Wildshill from a screenplay by Karey Kirkpatrick and Philip LaZebnik and a story by Wildshill and Kirkpatrick, and stars the voices of Matt Damon, Debra Messing, George Takei, Ian McShane, Ken Jeong, Brad Garrett, Gong Li, and Hiroyuki Sanada.

Originally in development since 2003 under the title NipponWoo La La was the first Universal Animation Studios film to be presented in 3D as well as the first film to be directed by Michael Wildshill in nine years since 2000's Mistress Masham's Repose. Taking place in Tokyo, the film follows a young Japanese couple who tries to get away from legendary creatures created by a greedy couple-hating collector under a new anti-couple law. Compared to previous computer-animated films from Universal Animation Studios, Woo La La employs a much darker tone paired with a far more threatening antagonist in the form of Warui Kobayashi, and tackles more difficult and complex themes, such as childhood trauma, sexism, genocide, and intolerance.

Woo La La had its world premiere at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on November 5, 2009, and was theatrically released in the United States on November 25, 2009 in 2D, RealD 3D, and IMAX 3D. The film received positive reviews from critics, praising its animation, voice acting, writing, musical score, and character development. It earned $532 million worldwide on a budget of $81 million, becoming the highest-grossing film directed by Michael Wildshill until Paradoria (2015), as well as the highest-grossing film solely directed by Wildshill. The film was also the third highest-grossing animated feature film of 2009 and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, losing to Up.

A television series based on the film aired on Gingo from October 2011 to April 2013.

Plot[edit | edit source]

Amai Yamada is a well-meaning but emotionally distressed man who lives with his adoptive mother Ying Yamada and pet raccoon dog Mr. Fazu in a small apartment room in Tokyo. He is consumed by fear of giving himself into any women due to scarring childhood memories of the brutal execution of his parents, as a result of the new anti-couple law submitted by collector Warui Kobayashi. One day, while walking down to work, Amai meets a young woman named Kireina Miyazaki and becomes reluctant but later distracted to see her, causing him to falter at work and resulting in him getting dismissed. Back at Amai's apartment, Ying convinces him to find a better life so he can likely avoid the anti-couple law.

The next day, Amai decides to see Kireina again, only to not get caught by Warui and the two start to fall in love. However, the pair suddenly end up getting caught by two of Warui's henchmen, Mio and Sumo Gumo, for breaking the law. Outraged, Warui loathes all couples, and plans to have Amai and Kireina frozen with liquid nitrogen but the two manage to escape. Then Amai takes Kireina to his apartment to meet Ying and Mr. Fazu. The couple spend the night in the apartment together as a safe place for Kireina so they won't break the anti-couple rule again but Kireina becomes desperate to go outside with Amai even if they won't get caught, in which Amai reluctantly accepts. They later find a secret hideout for couples where they spend most of the time there and have high hopes that Warui's henchmen won't find the hideout. After letting Kireina stay, Amai overhears a conversation from Mio and Sumo Gumo, where he learns that Warui is planning to mass-genocide every couple using an army of creatures. Amai warns Kireina of this, and they evade a pursuit from Mio, Sumo Gumo, and the rest of Warui's other henchmen.

Incensed at his minions' repeated failures, Warui sends for an oni-like creature named Chani. It is revealed that Warui's hatred for couples stemmed from his younger days; he was once a proud business owner before his company suffered bankruptcy and was ultimately shut down, leading to his delusion that marriages are degrading the work environment. Meanwhile, Amai and Kireina spend the night looking at the full beautiful view of Tokyo, while Kireina tells a story to Amai, revealing that she, too, had a childhood trauma, explaining Amai's backstory, and then eventually announces that she is rallying the citizens of Tokyo to strike against Warui and regain marriage rights, meaning she has to leave Amai behind for his own safety. Kireina departs and leads her fellow protestors to Warui's tower, to which Warui responds by sending his creatures to attack them. Many of the protestors are eventually captured, while Kireina is sentenced to be devoured by Warui's dragon. Back at the apartment, Ying encourages Amai not only to not give up, but also find his true love, promoting Amai to get Kireina back. Some of those remaining from the protest help Amai to rescue Kireina.

The citizens fight Warui's creations, while Warui hurls himself into the cauldron during the fight, only to emerge as a magmatic-like giant. He pursues Amai and Kireina to the rooftop where he prepares to burn them alive, but his heat weakens the building's structure and it collapses underneath him, and he plummets into the surrounding lake where he is petrified to rock and death. Amai and Kireina fall into the lake as well, but are saved by Mio and Sumo before they turn themselves in to the authorities for their involvement in Warui's crimes. Amai marries Kireina and together, they create a new family while watching the sunrise outside of Amai's apartment, with Amai narrating how content he is about what fighting for the lives of millions of people has led him to.

Voice cast[edit | edit source]

  • Matt Damon as Amai Yamada, a shy but kind and pampered young man living in an apartment in Tokyo. His name "Amai" (甘い) literally means "sweet". He was an orphan after the death of his parents, and was reluctant to go out with any women in fear of getting both of them harmed after his childhood trauma.
    • Jonathan Wildshill as Amai as a child. The voice actor is the director's son.
    • Josh Hutcherson as Amai as a teenager.
  • Debra Messing as Kireina Miyazaki, an innocent, kind, trustworthy, overprotective, and pretty woman who tries to assist her boyfriend Amai in escaping the anti-couple law. Her name "Kireina" (綺麗な) literally means "beautiful".
  • George Takei as Warui Kobayashi, a mean-spirited, ruthless, and greedy collector who dislikes couples, especially Amai and Kireina. He brings legendary creatures to life to track down any couples that come to his attention. His name "Warui" (悪い) literally means "bad".
  • Ian McShane as Chani, an oni-like creature who is the leader of a team of hench-onis. He is one of Warui's henchmen.
  • Ken Jeong as Mio, one of Warui's henchmen. Being Warui's henchman is Mio's first job, despite him being only a teenager.
  • Brad Garrett as Sumo Gumo, a Sumo wrestler who is one of Warui's henchmen and Mio's partner
  • Gong Li as Ying Yamada, the adoptive mother of Amai
  • Hiroyuki Sanada as Kabuto
  • Julia Kato as Amai's biological mother
  • Ken Takemoto as Amai's biological father
  • Gedde Watanabe as a sushi chef
  • Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa as Cho
  • Frank Welker provided vocal effects for Amai's pet Japanese raccoon dog Mr. Fazu.

Additional voices[edit | edit source]

Production[edit | edit source]

The idea for a film about a fantasy love story set in Japan was proposed by Michael Wildshill during the production of Universal Pictures' 2004 animated film Computeropolis. At the time, Universal encouraged everyone at its feature animation division to come up with ideas for more computer-animated features. Wildshill and Karey Kirkpatrick developed Wildshill's concept into a story before pitching it to Universal. Universal officially announced the film, under the working title of Nippon, on August 1, 2003. Philip LaZebnik was contracted to write the script for the film with Kirkpatrick. In May 2005, Universal announced that the film was expected to see a 2008 release.

In September 2006, Universal scheduled the film, now titled Woo La La, for a summer 2009 release, with Matt Damon and Debra Messing starring as the lead roles. According to Wildshill, the new title was a pun on "ooh la la", which means an exclamation of surprise, and "woo", which means to try to gain the love of a woman. Wildshill commented, "We tried to make the film's name a less fun. The title would make a little more sense since this movie we're working on is about two Japanese people falling in love." The Japanese release of the film was titled Amai x Kireina.

Starting with Woo La La, all feature films produced by Universal Animation Studios were produced in a stereoscopic 3D format. 2D, RealD 3D, IMAX 3D, and 4DX versions were released.

Music[edit | edit source]

Main article: Woo La La/Soundtrack

The score for Woo La La was composed by Hans Zimmer. The soundtrack was released on November 24, 2009 by Varèse Sarabande. Originally, Wildshill wanted Michael Giacchino to compose the music, but he was too busy composing for other feature-length projects, such as Star Trek, Up, and Land of the Lost (all three of which were released in 2009).

Release[edit | edit source]

Theatrical[edit | edit source]

Woo La La had its world premiere at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on November 5, 2009, and was widely released into American theaters on November 25, 2009. The film was initially set for release on June 26, 2009, but due to The Pandemoniums Movie taking that release date, it was delayed to November 25, 2009. It was then further delayed to December 18, 2009, before being moved up to November 25, 2009 to avoid competition with Avatar.

The film's theatrical release was accompanied by the short film The Sounds of the Ocean.

Marketing[edit | edit source]

The teaser trailer was released on November 5, 2008 and then was attached to Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa and later the DVD/Blu-ray releases of Swapped.

Home media[edit | edit source]

Woo La La was released on DVD and Blu-ray on March 2, 2010. As of May 2011, 7.2 million home entertainment units were sold worldwide. The film was released on 4K Blu-ray on October 15, 2019.

Reception[edit | edit source]

Critical reception[edit | edit source]

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 85% based on 183 reviews with an average rating of 8/10. The site's consensus states: "Woo La La offers a gorgeously animated, boldly melancholy romantic tale that blends Matt Damon and Debra Messing's charming chemistry into the story's peak at one man's own fear of love." On Metacritic, the film holds a score of 73 out of 100 based on 46 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A+" on an A+ to F scale.

Box office[edit | edit source]

Woo La La grossed $215 million in the United States and Canada and $317.4 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $532.4 million.

Reception in Japan[edit | edit source]

Coming soon!

Accolades[edit | edit source]

Award Category Recipient Result
Kids' Choice Awards Favorite Animated Movie Won
Favorite Voice From an Animated Movie Matt Damon

Television series[edit | edit source]

Main article: Woo La La (TV series)

Transcripts[edit | edit source]

Main[edit | edit source]

To see the main transcript of the film, click here.

Trailers[edit | edit source]

To see the transcript for the trailers of the film, click here.


v - e - d
Woo La La (2009) Logo.png
Media
Woo La La
Characters
Amai Yamada


v - e - d
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Universal Animation Studios
Ama and the Mysterious Crystal (1997) · Paint World (1999) · Mistress Masham's Repose (2000) · Magina (2003) · Computeropolis (2004) · Onion Mastori: The Movie (2005) · Curious George (2006) · Me & Mobo (2006) · Computeropolis 2 (2007) · Swapped (2008) · Woo La La (2009) · Computeropolis 3 (2010) · Nepola's Odyssey (2011) · Quest (2012) · Luna & Zak (2013) · Nepola's Odyssey II (2014) · Paradoria (2015) · Imagimals (2017) · Lix (2017) · Computeropolis: The Deep Web (2018) · Sev: Indehindrance Day (2019) · Paradoria 2 (2019) · Imagimals 2 (2020)

Upcoming: Computeropolis: Webcation (2021) · Mechagirl (2022)

Illumination
Despicable Me (2010) · Hop (2011) · The Lorax (2012) · Despicable Me 2 (2013) · Minions (2015) · The Secret Life of Pets (2016) · Sing (2016) · Despicable Me 3 (2017) · The Grinch (2018) · The Secret Life of Pets 2 (2019) · Esqua (2020)

Upcoming: Sing 2 (2021) · Minions: The Rise of Gru (2022) · Untitled animated Mario film (2022)

DreamWorks Animation
Dusk and Dawn: A Zodiacal Night (2018) · Greenuts (2018) · How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (2019) · Abominable (2019) · Trolls World Tour (2020) · The Croods: A New Age (2020)

Upcoming: Spirit Untamed (2021) · The Boss Baby: Family Business‎‎ (2021) · The Bad Guys (2022) · Puss in Boots: The Last Wish (2022)

Gingo Movies
Hatty in the Big City: The Movie (1999) · Cardcaptor Sakura: The Movie (1999) · Going Francisco (2001) · The Gabriel Garza Movie (2002) · The Whackems: One Big Movie (2003) · Zina and the Vivid Crew (2004) · The Pandemoniums Movie (2009) · The Ace of All Trades Movie: Too Hot For Theaters! (2010) · FusionMania: The Movie (2012) · Planetokio (2014)
Multimedia Animation
Liche's Wish (1990) · East of the Sun and West of the Moon (1992) · Romeo and Juliet (1994)
Amblin Entertainment
An American Tail (1986) · The Land Before Time (1988) · An American Tail: Fievel Goes West (1991) · We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story (1993) · Balto (1995) · The Imps of Nature (1996)
Big Idea Entertainment
Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie (2002) · The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: A VeggieTales Movie (2008) · LarryBoy: A VeggieTales Movie (2020)
Animated Films Distributed by Universal
The Snow Queen (1959) · Pinocchio in Outer Space (1969) · Flying Phantom Ship (1971) · Elements of Light (1989) · Jetsons: The Movie (1990) · Doraemon: The Movie‎‎ (1995) · Maze of the Castle (1998) · The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle (2000) · Princess Arete (2001) · Momo (2001) · The Magic Roundabout (2005) · The Princess and the Pied Piper (2006) · Cinnamon the Movie (2007) · The Tale of Despereaux (2008) · Saturn (2013)
Animated Films Distributed by Focus Features
Zoe Tarr: The Drinking Detective‎ (2007) · Coraline (2009) · 9 (2009) · ParaNorman (2012) · The Boxtrolls (2014) · Ratchet & Clank (2016) · Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)

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