DVD Release Date: March 2
Director/Writer: Hayao Miyazaki
Cinematographer: Atsushi Okui
Starring: Noah Cyrus, Cate Blanchett, Tina Fey, Matt Damon, Frankie Jonas
Studio/Run Time: Walt Disney, 100 mins.
It’s impossible to watch Hayao Miyazaki’s Ponyo without drawing a comparison to The Little Mermaid—here too, the titular character is a fish-person who becomes a human and must find true love.
But Miyazaki’s take is more personal and whimsical. There’s an irresistible passion in every frame, regardless of whether the events on screen make any sense. Beyond its inciting incident (titular fish Ponyo decides that she wants to become human, which for poorly-explained reasons sets off a flood) the movie doesn’t have much of a plot and certainly no real antagonists. The rest of the film hinges on Ponyo and her young love, Sosuke, reuniting with his mother. Even as he ages, Miyazaki’s young characters remain accurate portraits of childhood without being reduced to mere nostalgia. No one understands the wonders of youth better. Ponyo
’s unhurried, fantastical journey might not seem like compelling cinema, but sometimes it’s enough to just sit back and let a beautiful work of animation wash over you, troubles sliding past as the pictures transport you into another world.