This is a very sweet film that directly addresses the core (sorry) relationships of the Kamen Rider OOO series… and also a very weird crossover film.

As recent SH Figuarts exhibitions have reminded us: Yes, this film features the star of The Unfettered Shogun, teaming up with a tokusatsu superhero to save Edo-era Japan from a time-traveling alchemist. That’s insane. Imagine if there had been a Power Rangers movie where the Power Rangers had solved the mystery of the villain’s plot thanks to the help of, like, Columbo. Imagine Columbo helping some teens with attitude in the middle act of a summer film. Imagine ten years later, when Hasbro teased Lightning Collection Columbo. Everything I’ve just said is awesome, and ludicrous. AND YET! Toei and Bandai went ahead and did their version of it in 2011, and it’s pretty entertaining.

It’s an entertaining movie, to be sure. There’s a ton of really good fan service in this one. They use GataKiriBa to allow for every single OOO Full Combo to fight side-by-side, and that’s fantastic. There’s a new movie form, the also-recently-offered-as-a-Figuart Burakawani suit. All the villains of the show make both in-suit and out-of-suit appearances. All the heroes take part in the narrative. It’s an All Hands movie.

I’m not sure it really hits any huge heights, though. Everything’s there, and there’s nothing I’d really crab about (well, one thing), but it’s still a very Three Out Of Four Stars movie. Solid, fun, but still sort of forgettable. There’s the one theme, and it’s one I really like, but it’s somehow also one that gets wrapped up midway through the film?

Using the OOO Summer Movie to tell a story about how the people we love can love us back while still sort of being forgettable/inconsiderate/raging assholes, that’s a great OOO theme. It uses the whole Hina/Ankh relationship as a metaphor for trying to make things work with the people in our lives, even if we end up having to do more of the work than they do. Hina’s in a situation where her brother literally has an exterior that is callous and insensitive (Ankh! At some very high levels of Ankholishness this time out! Entertainingly so!), while having an interior that’s thoughtful and caring. That’s Shun’s story, to a less horrific degree. His mom isn’t around as much as he’d like, and he resents her for it. But she’s trying, and she loves him, so maybe he can try to meet her more than halfway. It’s a little more nuanced than the typical Your Parents Are Owed Your Love And Respect No Matter What lesson some recent Kamen Rider movies have foisted on us, and I’m glad for the thoughtfulness Kobayashi brings to the material. Shun’s right to feel like he should matter more, but maybe he can also cut a working mom some slack when she makes an effort.

It all gets wrapped up in a movie that leans on the societal version of family, of all of us supporting each other, but I feel like the emotional component of the movie peaked when Eiji was there for Shun, not when Eiji defeated Bells or when OOO defeated Gara. Everything after Eiji and Shun share that nighttime snack… it was good, but it wasn’t as good.

But this movie was more than just new forms and classic TV actors! We also need to talk about the appearance of a Kamen Rider actor beloved by fans, an actor whose charisma helped unite a sprawling cast of young adults…

Kaido! (“KAIDO”) Yup, Kaido’s actor makes a brief, welcome appearance as -- what else -- a guitarist whose life gets significantly worse. I can’t imagine why Kaido got cast in a tiny role in a non-Inoue film, but I’m totally grateful for it.

Anyway, there’s also this guy:

Kamen Rider Fourze! Who matches the screwball energy of Kamen Rider OOO so perfectly, that it reminded me why W/OOO/Fourze (“WOOOF”) is maybe my favorite streak of series in the franchise. Like, Fourze feels like an evolution of what Heisei Phase 2 was trying to do, not a pivot away from it or a boring retread. It’s taking the Feuding Superhero Dynamic of Ankh and Eiji, but blowing it up to a whole roster of teen archetypes. It’s a lead character who is open and generous, who is living Eiji’s previous sentiment that Riders Should Help Each Other. Everything about Fourze’s slapstick sequence in this film is adorable, and it’s a terrific introduction to one of my favorite lead actors.

Which is not to take away from the OOO team, of course. There’s some stuff that feels a little tacked on here (I don’t… I’m not sure why the cast needed to spend the middle third in an Edo-era crossover?), but it’s still a pleasant viewing experience at worst. I don’t love this movie, but I had a fun time watching it.

I feel like I’ve said that before! And I’ll probably be saying it again!