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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Ponyo (aka Gake No Ue No Ponyo) (2008)

Loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen's THE LITTLE MERMAID, this latest offering from anime master Hayao Miyazaki is perhaps less sophisticated (though not in its imaginative visuals) and more child friendly than his previous efforts but I enjoyed it immensely. A small boy finds a goldfish with a human face who through magic or perhaps sheer will power becomes a litle 5 year old girl out of her love for the boy. However, her turning into a human throws the balance of nature out of whack as a massive tsunami puts most of the earth underwater and the moon approaching closer to the earth. I'm not sure the kiddies will get the ecological thematic aspects of the story which isn't forced but the simplicity of the tale makes it family friendly though I had reservations about the portrayal of the boy's mother who seemed reckless, taking unnecessary risks that put her child in danger. The English language (supervised by E.T. author Melissa Mathison) voice cast is impressive: Cate Blanchett, Liam Neeson, Matt Damon, Lily Tomlin, Betty White, Tina Fey and Cloris Leachman. And while some of the voice work is wonderfully done (especially Tomlin, White and Leachman as a trio of seniors in an old folks home), the Japanese language track is the way to go. The lovely score by Joe Hisaishi is one of his very best.

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