Sunday, November 01, 2009


Saw Hayao Miyazaki's Ponyo recently before it left movie theaters late this summer. Miyazaki is the acclaimed Japanese filmmaker who created Spirited Away, which won an Oscar for Best Animated Feature in 2003.

Ponyo is not the director's best work, but it is an interesting diversion.

The main problem is the (feebleness of the) plot and (lack of) character development. It's mildly amusing to identify the voices of the famous celebrities who add their voices to the cast: Matt Damon, Liam Neeson, Cate Blanchett, Betty White, Cloris Leachman, Lily Tomlin and Tina Fey.

The story is about Ponyo, who is both the daughter of the sea god and goldfish. One day, a 5-year-old boy named Sosuke finds the goldfish and takes it home but loses the goldfish back in the ocean. Ponyo uses her father's magic to transform herself from a goldfish to a little girl and returns to land to live with Sosuke. However, the magic unleashes a terrible storm and huge storm tide which floods the area where Sosuke and his mom live. Ponyo and Sosuke have to work together to find his mom and save the world from the increasingly dangerous effects of the rising tide.

The synopsis doesn't really do the plot justice, but as with most of Miyazaki's movies the point of the film is more about the emotional connection the filmmaker is able to make with the audience, and not the story, per se.

In films like Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle the magical moments can overwhelm any defects in the plot. Sadly, Ponyo is not one of those films.

Running Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes. MPAA Rating: Rated G for general audiences.



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