Gung Ho is your basic West meets East comedy set in an auto plant. Local high school hero Hunt Stevenson, played by Michael Keaton, goes to Japan to convince a car manufacturer to reopen the local car plant before the town dies.
Why it is the Keaton character who got the job is a mystery but the opening minutes of the film, set in Japan, are funny if you like humor about being lost in a foreign land.
Stevenson gets the car company to reopen the plant under Japanese management and gets himself a job as go-between between the Japanese bosses and the American autoworkers.
There are quite a few moments in Gung Ho that the people at General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler should definitely watch every month as this comedy makes quite a few biting but true jokes about the quality of American cars and worker attitudes. Unions also come in for a few punches as the workers, following Michael Keaton's lead, decide to work in a non-union environment.
Of course, you have to have a good dose of willing suspension of disbelief to accept a union would go for the kind of meeting where it gets trounced but also that it would so easily let go of its protection fee and its taste of the workers' paychecks.
Michael Keaton is his usual uneven self in Gung Ho, an early Ron Howard lightweight comedy and Gedde Watanabe, his Japanese counterpart, does a good job with weaker material.
You expect clichés and some Japan-bashing in an American comedy and Watanabe does what he can with what he gets. This is yet another comedy written by Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel (Robots, EdTv, City Slickers, A League of Their Own, and the dreadful Mr. Saturday Night) and you can see their particular brand of humor everywhere.
Gung Ho is a fun little comedy with a somewhat predictable ending. One of those movies you like watching again every once in a while