Ponyo on the Cliff!
In classic Miyazaki fashion, “Ponyo” is a story about children. Specifically, a young boy named Sosuke finds a fish-girl and names her Ponyo. The film is magical and wondrous; echoes from “The Little Mermaid” are passed through a Miyazaki filter and loaded with his visual visions. As always, the film is visually striking – Ponyo’s father has an underwater castle with rainbow colored magic; Sosuke’s mother drives through a storm where waves are literally reaching towering heights. I imagine the movie through the eyes of a child – no one knows really how they must view the story. As a kid, I thought how silly adults were and promised myself that when I grew up, I would certainly set things straight. Alas, I have forgotten all details, remembering only the desire to change, and none of the changes themselves.
I don’t know what understanding or explanations a child would have for some of the questions I had about the movie (next time, I must try to find someone young to watch it with, so I can interview him or her afterwards). I ended up accepting things in the movie as they were, letting go of hesitations and uncertainties. Again, I loved how accepting and trusting the adults in Miyazaki’s films are: Sosuke’s mother believes all the magic that happens to Sosuke from the beginning, stopping her car immediately when Sosuke sees a little girl running on top of the ocean waves.
Drawing from a star studded voice cast, the film’s English version was not bad. Tina Fey voices the mother, and Matt Damon the father; we have little siblings Noah Cyrus and a Jonas brother as the children. Cate Blanchett and Liam Neeson are Ponyo’s ocean dwelling parents. It seems like everyone has a soft spot for Miyazaki films; either that or Disney’s getting bigger budgets for their voice actors.
There’s not much to say other than I have always loved the textures of the ocean: “Finding Nemo” did an especially good job handling the depictions of liquid substances. This movie was closer to the lovely childishness of “My Neighbor Totoro”, rather than the “Mononoke”-esqye complexities I prefer.
Overall, 4/5 – “Ponyo” is adorable and sweet. See it under a childish state of mind!