Koki Mitani has been a one-man comedy factory for nearly four decades, with a long list of plays, TV dramas and films to his credit. Among his 11 features are the 1991 courtroom comedy "The Gentle Twelve," which he scripted, and the 1997 "Welcome Back, Mr. McDonald," his directorial debut. Both were clever and slick, in the style of Mitani's idols Neil Simon and Billy Wilder, but their humanism is also recognizably Japanese.

Somewhere along the way, his films became dull and predictable. The nadir was "Galaxy Turnpike" (2015), a sci-fi comedy so excruciating that I thought I was witnessing a creative meltdown. The comedy factory had become the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

But in "Hit Me Anyone One More Time," a political comedy based on his original script, Mitani has made a comeback, if not a triumphant one.