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Ponyo - Utterly Adorable, Not Miyazaki's Best

I think the title says it all, don't ya think?

Ok. So, the movie was ok. I'm a big fan of Hayao Miyazaki's body of work, and I was really excited about seeing this movie. I am sad to say that I was a bit disappointed.

I sat through the whole thing comparing it to his previous movies (i.e. Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle, Kiki's Delivery Service, etc...), and I think that was a bad idea. Those movies were wonderful, and the artistry was simply gorgeous. But in comparison... Well, let's face it. This movie didn't even compare to those.

First, Noah Cyrus's (Miley's younger sister) voice was cute for most of the movie, but near the end it just got grating. Of course, that's in the style of anime: the cuter the character, the more squeaky the voice gets. That grievance is forgiveable.

Secondly, I don't know what Miyazaki's point was in altering his art style, but for some reason he reverted to 70's-style anime where everything looked really sloppy. One of the things that I love about Miyazaki is his pristine imagery, his clean lines, and his vibrant colors. This movie was definitely visually grabbing, but it looked as if no finishing touches were put on the characters, specifically Liam Neeson's character, Fujimoto (pictured above). There were several times during the film that I almost said out loud, "Did that slip past the polishing phase of production?" I know that Miyazaki hand-draws all of his frames, but everything else (background, other characters) look so sharp. Every time he came on screen, I was thrown a little.

Don't get me wrong. Hand-drawn animation is not only difficult (and I respect and admire anyone who is capable of anything even 1/2 as wonderful as Miyazaki's works), but it's beautiful, especially in a world where they're remaking The Secret of NIMH in the fashion of the latest Alvin & the Chipmunks movies. I feel that Miyazaki fell just a little bit short on this one in comparison to his other films.

Thirdly, I hate to admit it, but I was distracted by all of the "names" they had voicing the characters. I mean, it's great that Miyazaki's films are being converted to English with top-rate actors, but I was very aware of the fact that Liam Neeson played Fujimoto. I could see Betty White saying all of Noriko's lines in my mind's eye. This isn't to say they didn't do a fantastic job. They did, really and truly, but the thing that I love so much about dubbed movies is that the voices are no-names (unless you follow the voice over career moguls, that is) and, as such, unrecognizeable. It makes the characters all the more real.

Fourthly - and this was no fault of Miyazaki's at all - there was a freaking baby jabbering through the whole movie, and of course the mother wouldn't remove the child out of politeness for the rest of the audience. Nooooo, the baby was being so very, very cute (insert baby talk), so there was no need. "Mama," "Dada," it said along with some other nonsense. I will admit, it was cute for around 2 seconds, and then I got pissed. I mean, honestly... RUDE. It also doesn't help that, to be honest, I really don't like anything under the age of 18 as far as humans go. I don't foresee motherhood in my future, so I think I'll be good to go on that front.

Along the same lines, there were a group of girls sitting behind us that were in the mood for what I like to call "the cute." Every single time there was even so little as a fraggin' bubble on the screen, there was a chorus of "awwwwwwww" that erupted from the whole gaggle. For real? I mean... for real? As I said, it was a very cute movie, and there were several times that I admittedly let a coo escape from my lips, but every 2 seconds? I think not.

In the end, I say this: It's cute, but unless you can get in to see it for free like I did (Ah, the joys of having a boyfriend that works at a movie theater...), don't waste your money. Wait until a friend buys it on DVD or put it on your Netflix queue if you have one.

That's all I have to say about that (Thanks, Mr. Gump.).

The next movie I'm seeing is probably going to be District 9. I've heard it's good despite talks of goriness, so I'll give it a try. It's definitely an interesting idea, and I'm intrigued.

Have any of you seen District 9 or Ponyo, yet? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Tune in at noon for my regularly scheduled broadcast. Next up on the writing exercises: My character visits the dentist. Sure to be great fun and frivolity. Possibly even vim and vigor.



NLightNMe said…
Great review!! I plan to see District 9, I've heard its a really good movie.

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