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When an unconfident young woman is cursed with an old body by a spiteful witch, her only chance of breaking the spell lies with a self-indulgent yet insecure young wizard and his companions in his legged, walking castle.
A young girl rescues a mysterious cat from traffic and soon finds herself the unwelcome recipient of gifts and favors from the King of the Cats, who also wants her to marry his son, Prince Lune. With the assistance of a fat, grouchy real cat and a an elegant cat statuette come to life (both characters featured in Studio Ghibli's earlier anime "Whisper of the Heart"), the girl visits the Cat Kingdom and narrowly escapes again. Written by
Not up to the usual high standard but still a fun and cute fairy tale adventure
Haru is down on her luck. She feels picked on at school, unable to get her life together or even talk to the boy she likes. When she sees a cat crossing the road and stuck in the path of a lorry, she acts quickly to rescue it only for it to stand up and thank her! Haru assumes she has just gone mad but when she tells her mother she is reminded of a similar incident in Haru's childhood where she maintained she was able to understand what a kitten was saying. Regardless, Haru tries to just forget the whole thing but later that night she is visited by the King of Cat Kingdom, The Cat King. Apparently the cat Haru saved was the King's son Lune and she learns that she has been rewarded with marriage to Lune not that she wants it. Her only help is the Cat Bureau managed by the dashing and debonair Baron.
It is a problem that I bet we wish that we all had in our jobs the problem that our "normal" standards are so high that anything less than brilliant is perceived as being disappointing. This appears to be the case with Miyazaki's Studio Ghibli simply because it is not as poetic and epic as Spirited Away, Castle in the Sky and others. For those that consider that "it is not perfect" is the same as "it is not any good" then by all means avoid this film but personally I found it an enjoyable little fantasy that I can only imagine children will love. True the story lacks the emotional depth that I wanted it to have but it makes up for it with a good narrative, imagination and some nice humour. All of these combine to produce an enjoyable little fairy tale set in the real world and the cat kingdom. It is very short but then that suited the material.
The animation does not compare to the sheer magnificence to be found in some of Ghibli's finest films but it is still wonderfully cute although I gave a copy of this to my girlfriend, I avoided watching it with her so that I wouldn't have to cope with her screams of delight at each individual cat on the screen. The English voice cast is also good and they bring out the fun in the dialogue. Hathaway is a good lead as cute as her character and not labouring under forced depth. Ewles is a perfect Baron and his voice is smooth as you can imagine. Likewise Boyle is a great bit of casting and Gould is a welcome presence even if he has comparatively few lines. Curry is a bit of a disappointment considering how his voice is usually very distinctive but others in the support cast are solid enough.
Those looking for something that can stand alongside the beauty and depth of some of the best films from Ghibli will be disappointed but that is not the same as the film being rubbish. Rather it is a breezy and entertaining film with a fun adventure plot. The animation is very cartoony but this shouldn't matter as it is likely that children will love it. The characters lack depth but work on the level they are drawn while the important ones of Baron and Haru are engaging. Not everything has to be a classic this isn't but it is fun which was enough for me.
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