The Clock family are four-inch-tall people who live anonymously in another family's residence, borrowing simple items to make their home. Life changes for the Clocks when their daughter, Arrietty, is discovered.
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.
College student Hana falls in love with another student who turns out to be a werewolf, who dies in an accident after their second child. Hana moves to the rural countryside where her husband grew up to raise her two werewolf children.
The son of a sailor, 5-year old Sosuke lives a quiet life on an oceanside cliff with his mother Lisa. One fateful day, he finds a beautiful goldfish trapped in a bottle on the beach and upon rescuing her, names her Ponyo. But she is no ordinary goldfish. The daughter of a masterful wizard and a sea goddess, Ponyo uses her father's magic to transform herself into a young girl and quickly falls in love with Sosuke, but the use of such powerful sorcery causes a dangerous imbalance in the world. As the moon steadily draws nearer to the earth and Ponyo's father sends the ocean's mighty waves to find his daughter, the two children embark on an adventure of a lifetime to save the world and fulfill Ponyo's dreams of becoming human. Written by
The Massie Twins
Well, I suppose it was unrealistic to expect to hit the trifecta in a single weekend, but I must confess my surprise that the flik that proved to be the dud in the trio was this confection from Hayao Miyazaki, acknowledged master of anime and the genius behind My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, and Princess Mononoke.
As expected, the artwork was ethereal, whimsical, and utterly charming. It's all hand-drawn in the original 2-D cel-animation style that was state of the art for 7 decades. It's Miyazaki's trademark, and it doesn't disappoint.
Unfortunately, this time around it's in service of a wandering, inchoate, ultimately pointless plot loosely drawn from Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Mermaid" (which is why I somewhat hesitantly label it a remake).
You would not recognize the mermaid, however, and certainly shouldn't be expecting Disney's Ariel. Ponyo (Noah Lindsey Cyrus) starts out, we are told, as a goldfish, but the strangest little goldfish you ever saw, with a human face, bright orange hair, no fins, and a lower trunk that looks like that of a Hummel figurine, except wiggly. Oh, and she's about the size of your fist. At that, she's 3-4 times bigger than the hundreds of other goldfish a giggling gaggle of miniature Ponyettes (her sisters?) who inhabit the same hole in the seabed and continue to put in guest appearances thruout the movie.
Ponyo is carried to the surface atop a jellyfish following in the wake of her "father" Fujimoto. He apparently qualifies for the title not because he's the King Goldfish (he looks like an overdressed David Bowie) but because he's the father of everything in the sea, as well as their self-appointed protector. He purports to loathe human beings and, in one of several incongruously technical geological references, says he wants to bring about a new Cambrian Explosion. (I'm usually happy to encounter mention of Darwinian processes, but what the heck this is doing in a kids' fairy tale is beyond me.)
Once near the surface, Ponyo gets her head trapped in a jelly jar, but she's freed by 5-year- old Sosuke (Frankie Jonas), an unfailingly kind and polite little boy whose mom (Risa or Lisa, Tina Fey) works in a retirement home and whose dad (Koichi, Matt Damon) is a frequently absent ship's captain. The family lives in a big rambling house on a cliff overlooking the sea, and it is here they repair after Ponyo sprouts legs, arms, and a hankering for ham sandwiches. Oh, and balloons up to the same size as Sosuke.
There's a Greek chorus of old ladies at Lisa's workplace, the Moon comes to visit for an extended stay, a typhoon covers everything in 20 metres of standing water but causes no damage, ocean waves turn into fish with eyes, a toy boat gets magically enlarged to become a seaworthy craft, and Guran Mamere (Cate Blanchett), the spirit of the sea, arrives in time to help rebalance the karmic equilibrium of the planet.
Wonders to behold, to be sure, but bearing no obvious connection to each other, just a bunch of novel ideas thrown together at random. It's clearly silly to expect cause-effect relationships, let alone explanations, but a certain minimal amount of coherence is necessary. In a world where anything can happen, who cares what does?
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