'Ponyo,' Swimming Magically Against The Tide

Ponyo runs on the wave-tops.

hide captionUp Where They Walk, Up Where They Run: Ponyo, a goldfish turned little girl, gets her chance to live where the people are in a sweet-natured film by Spirited Away director Hayao Miyazaki.

Nibariki-GNDHDDT

Ponyo

  • Director: Hayao Miyazaki
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Running Time: 100 minutes

Rated G

With: Cate Blanchett, Liam Neeson, Matt Damon, Tina Fey

(Recommended)

If you thought Pixar's Up was going to be the only great animated feature of the summer, think again. There's a new film out from the visionary Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki, and trust me: You'll be planning to see Ponyo twice before you've finished seeing it once.

The film's special mixture of fantasy, adventure and affection mark it unmistakably as the work of Miyazaki, the great genius of contemporary animation. (He won an Oscar for Spirited Away.)

The story he tells this time concerns a goldfish named Ponyo, who desperately wants to be a little girl after she meets a small boy who loves her.

Once Ponyo's on land, she proves to be a delightfully willful creature, determined to have her own way in all things. Though her magician father returns her to the ocean, she's not the type to give up. She steals an elixir to help her become human, but that causes a storm to end all storms, a tempest that jeopardizes everyone in the film.

That supernatural tsunami represents a notion central to the film: that magic haunts the edges of the everyday, mixing with the ordinary in ways we don't always take the time to notice.

Underlying everything is Miyazaki's exceptional filmmaking imagination, his ability to bring us into other worlds, to stretch our minds without seeming to break a sweat.

Sosuke (voiced by Frankie Jonas) and Ponyo (Noah Cyrus). i i

hide captionGuppy Love: Ponyo (voiced by Noah Cyrus) and Sosuke (Frankie Jonas) get along swimmingly.

Nibariki-GNDHDDT
Sosuke (voiced by Frankie Jonas) and Ponyo (Noah Cyrus).

Guppy Love: Ponyo (voiced by Noah Cyrus) and Sosuke (Frankie Jonas) get along swimmingly.

Nibariki-GNDHDDT

Ponyo is a sweet-natured film that emphasizes the joys of childhood friendships, and this English-language version has been given first-class treatment. E.T. screenwriter Melissa Mathison did the adaptation, and top-quality voice talent like Liam Neeson, Tina Fey and Cate Blanchett were hired.

Ponyo won't remind you of anyone else's films. It offers up unforgettable images, like Ponyo running on the crests of waves, images that use the logic of dreams to make the deepest possible connection to our emotions, and to our souls.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Support comes from: