Movie Review - Miyazaki's 'Ponyo,' Swimming Magically Against The Tide A goldfish gets her chance to live above sea level in a sweet-natured film by visionary Hayao Miyazaki. Kenneth Turan says its mixture of fantasy, adventure and affection make Ponyo unforgettable.
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'Ponyo,' Swimming Magically Against The Tide

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'Ponyo,' Swimming Magically Against The Tide

Review

Movies

'Ponyo,' Swimming Magically Against The Tide

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Film critic, Kenneth Turan, has a review of his own. It's of a movie you might attend after dinner. It's an animated movie that plays to parents as well as kids by an Oscar-winning Japanese animator.

Mr. KENNETH TURAN (Film critic, Los Angeles Times): You'll be planning to see Ponyo twice before you finish seeing it once. It's special mixture of fantasy, adventure and affection mark it unmistakably as the work of the visionary Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki. Miyazaki is the great genius of contemporary animation. 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.

(Soundbite of movie, "Ponyo")

Mr. FRANKIE JONAS: (As Sosuke) Mom, I think I'll call her Ponyo. She came to meet me. She might be magic. I saved her. She's my responsibility now.

Mr. TURAN: 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 is not the type to give up on anything. She steals an elixir to help her become human. But that causes a storm to end all storms, jeopardizes everyone in the film.

(Soundbite of movie, "Ponyo")

Mr. TURAN: That supernatural tsunami represents the film's notion that magic haunts the edges of the everyday, mixing with the ordinary in ways we don't always take the time to notice. And underlying everything is Miyazaki's exceptional film-making imagination, his ability to bring us into other worlds, to stretch our minds without seeming to break a sweat. "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 have been 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.

INSKEEP: Kenneth Turan reviews movies for MORNING EDITION and the Los Angeles Times. You can find clips of "Ponyo" at our Web site npr.org when you're checking headlines throughout the day.

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