Driven by bedroom walls covered in pornography and his childish erotic fantasies, Asao (Duncan) is a young man determined to get laid. Through a series of schemes to attract women, he finds himself in increasingly bizarre and surreal scenarios.

No one could ever accuse the Japanese auteur ‘Beat’ Takeshi Kitano of being a conventional filmmaker. Just at home with coming-of-age drama as with the meditative crime sagas with which he made his name as a force in Japanese cinema, the surreal humour of 1994’s Getting Any? would seem right up his street. A pity, then, that self-indulgence and a lack of focus get the better of this often funny but critically uneven sex comedy.

The film starts well enough, with a film-within-the-film gag that turns out to be one of Asao’s fantasies, though it remains unclear throughout the film whether his flights of fancy are real media he consumes or merely the products of his sordid imagination. Convinced that the key to picking up women is to acquire a sports car, Asao tries out a few showroom models – including practising his sleazy moves on the saleswoman. However, cashflow is a problem, so instead he plumps for a cheaper hatchback in fetching baby blue. Unsurprisingly, the car fails to attract the anticipated screaming hordes of ladies, which is just as well as soon after his car is crushed by a runaway lorry.

Kitano’s distinctive sense of comic timing – cutting away just at the moment of payoff, deadpan line delivery – serves Getting Any’s early sequences well. The rhythmic timing of Asao’s schemes, moving from buying cars to bungled bank robberies, are among the film’s funniest sequences. At about the midway point, Asao – improbably mistaken for a Yakuza hitman – faces off against a rival crew, set to a rip-off of Michael Jackson’s Beat It. The sequence hits the bullseye for its non-sequitur silliness, yet also marks the point at which the film starts to unravel.

Asao’s goal is all but forgotten in favour a series of frivolous sketches sending up Ghostbusters, The Invisible Man and The Fly. These are fitfully amusing at best, but are a sign that Getting Any? has stopped working as a film and is merely filling screentime with B-grade vignettes. Getting Any? has some potentially interesting things to say about the ubiquity of sex in media, fantasy and the surreal in cinema, and its first half is frequently very funny. Yet it squanders much of this in the service of a silliness that despite Kitano’s consummate skill as a filmmaker, slowly morphs from charming to witless.

Christopher Machell | @Dr_Machell