Thursday, October 11, 2012
From Hiyao Miyazaki(who if you didn't know created the Oscar-winning Spirited Away)is this his latest movie which is an original story, although slightly inspired by The Little Mermaid and some elements of The Frog Prince. This is his eighth film that he's done through Studio Ghibli, which he co-founded, and was fortunate to be released in U.S. theatres through Disney.
A 5-year old boy named Sosuke lives right on the ocean with his parents. His father is a fisherman who usually isn't at home, and his mother Lisa works at a senior citizens center. One day, Sosuke catches a strange looking goldfish he calls Ponyo which licks a cut on his finger and heals him. The fish gets away, but is really the daughter of a strange Willy Wonka-dressed man who is some kind of keeper of peace in the seas. Ponyo uses her magic to transform into a human girl, although sometimes she looses her composure which causes her to change into a slightly frog-like creature. She runs into Sosuke who immeadiately recognizes her as the fish he caught, and is taken in temporarily by Lisa during a huge typhoon which floods the entrie area. Lisa leaves to go look in on the old ladies at the center, leaving Sosuke and Ponyo to set out the next morning in a toy boat that Ponyo makes bigger with her magical powers. They then encounter Ponyo's father who takes them to his underwater refuge, where Lisa and all the old ladies from the center have been kept to save them from the flood. There, they encounter Ponyo's mother who is essentiually a cross between a goddess and Glinda the good witch, and lets them know that Ponyo can stay with Sosuke and his mother. The movie ends with the balance of nature being turned back to normal, because somehow Ponyo accidently caused it to happen with her magic.
I'd have to say I very much enjoyed this movie. It's Miyazaki's first movie intended for children since My Neighbor Totoro, and it comes off as such. There isn't any dark overtone like some of his last films like Howl's Moving Castle or Princess Mononoke, and is done purely for sheer fun. Granted, the plot didn't seem to have too much of a main direction to it, but Miyazaki makes up for it with his stellar visuals. The dub is pretty fair with the usually roster of celebrities that Disney gets for its movies, including Tina Fey as Lisa, Matt Damon as Sosuke's father, and Cate Blanchett as Ponyo's mother. I'd say Liam Neeson was miscast as Ponyo's dad, and it could have done without the Jonas Bros. & Cyrus' siblings being cast as the main characters, but was still acceptable. I'd recommend this film as a mainstay for someone's family, although traditional anime fans might find it a little hokey. So, definately look it up if you want another Totoro-like pump of the "warm fuzzies".