A Matter of Size
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The Karate Kid meets The Full Monty in A Matter of Size, a light-hearted Israeli comedy that offers a surprising twist on the same old sports movie formula.

Herzl (Itzik Cohen) has been overweight his entire life. Now, at 35, he goes to meetings at a weight loss club each week—but, no matter how hard he tries to lose weight, he only ends up gaining even more.

After his size interferes with his job as a chef, Herzl takes a job washing dishes at a Japanese restaurant. There, he discovers sumo—and it gives him a big idea. Fed up with the abuse that he and his overweight friends endure at their weight loss club each week, he decides to stop hating himself for being overweight and start using his size to his advantage.

Herzl convinces four of his fat friends to help him start a sumo club—and, for once, they all start to feel good about their size. But when their new coach, Kitano (Togo Igawa), refuses to train Herzl’s girlfriend, Zehava (Irit Kaplan) because women aren’t allowed in sumo, he’s forced to choose between the woman he loves and the sport he loves.

Entertaining and oddly inspirational, A Matter of Size is an unexpected delight—with a few shocking moments of side-splitting humor. And although the story is based on various familiar film formulas, it still feels fresh and original—thanks, especially, to captivating performances by a charmingly comical cast.

Meanwhile, the film handles the characters’ struggles with their size playfully but respectfully, making light of the situation without resorting to an endless string of humiliating fat jokes. It doesn’t take itself too seriously—but, at the same time, it also refrains from making fun of the overweight characters. Sure, the men are forced to train in those skimpy sumo uniforms—which, admittedly, is quite funny—but the humor comes more from the characters’ personalities and attitudes than their size. In fact, the imagery of the four men in their bright uniforms, proudly practicing their sport in the forest, is even strangely, strikingly beautiful.

Unfortunately, the story falls into the age-old romantic comedy formula when Herzl decides to lie to Zehava about his continued involvement in the club. Though it adds conflict to the story, it feels awkward and contrived—because the situation seems so insignificant (Is it really such a big deal that he doesn’t want to quit?), yet it’s blown up into such a serious issue.

Despite a few minor imperfections, though, A Matter of Size is a highly enjoyable—and often wildly entertaining—comedy about a lovable group of unlikely athletes who learn to love themselves while learning a new sport. It may not have you skipping your next Weight Watchers meeting and donning a colorful diaper to go wrestling in the woods, but it’s a light—and satisfying—experience.

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