Reviewed by: Ashley Hoffman
|Featuring||voices of: Matt Damon, Tina Fey, Cate Blanchett, Liam Neeson, Lily Tomlin, Betty White, Madison Davenport, Fankie Jonas, Noah Lindsey Cyrus, Cloris Leachman, Kurt Knutsson, Jennessa Rose, Carlos Alazraqui, Bob Bergen, Johanna Braddy, Marsha Clark, John Cygan, Jennifer Darling, Courtnee Draper, Crispin Freeman, Jess Harnell, Ella Dale Lewis, Sherry Lynn, Danny Mann, Mona Marshall, Mickie McGowan, Laraine Newman, Colleen O'Shaughnessey, Jan Rabson|
|Producer||Studio Ghibli, Nippon Television Network Corporation (NTV), DENTSU Music And Entertainment, Hakuhodo DY Media Partners, The Walt Disney Company, Mitsubishi (Mitsubishi Shouji), Toho Company, Asahi Soft Drinks Company (Asahi Inryou), Lawson, The Yomiuri Shimbun, Steve Alpert, Naoya Fujimaki, Ryoichi Fukuyama, Koji Hoshino, Kathleen Kennedy, John Lasseter, Frank Marshall, Hayao Miyazaki, Seiji Okuda, Toshio Suzuki|
|Distributor||The Walt Disney Company|
“Welcome to a world where anything is possible”
The movie Ponyo starts with a beautiful, effortless melodious song as the credits begin and only gets better from there. An inventive twist on “The Little Mermaid,” the fairy-tale centers around Ponyo (voiced by Noah Cyrus)—a goldfish who desperately yearns to experience life on land—and a boy named Sosuke (Frankie Jonas) who lives with his mother (Tina Fey) while his father Koichi (Matt Damon) works as a sailor.
One day, Sosuke discovers Ponyo, a goldfish with an oddly human face, trapped in a glass jar. After he frees her, he keeps her as a pet, and they form a steadfast friendship. Ponyo’s wizard father Fujimoto (Liam Neeson) seeks to protect Ponyo and the balance of nature by returning her to the sea. Fujimoto goes to great lengths to find her, even going so far as to send out water spirits to search for her. He eventually discovers Ponyo and takes her back to her watery world. Her ensuing quest to become human and to find Sosuke, yet again, sets off of a series events with spectacular consequences.
Miyazaki’s mesmerizing animation blends bright, brilliant colors to create a stunning effect for the audience. Each frame is hand-drawn, and the first twelve seconds of sea creatures required 1631 pages of conceptual sketches; it is utterly apparent how much love and labor went into this movie.
The actors involved with this movie lend their voices to the characters with terrific results. Each voice seems to fit the character very well, and audio is so perfectly timed that you can’t tell that the movie was dubbed. Additionally, the audio effects, especially the water-related ones, sounded superb.
The often thoughtful-pacing of this movie seems well suited to showing the interactions between Ponyo and Sosuke. It takes time to capture some of the essence of how children actually behave and show the humor that can be found in simple interactions.
The offensive content in this G-rated movie is minor. Only two brief things bear mentioning. First of all, some magic does transpire in this movie, but, in my opinion, it is no worse than any children’s story involving spells and magic potions. Secondly, the movie does give a brief nod to evolution in the way it talks about different creatures in different periods, and one of the characters mentions that we originated from sea foam. Otherwise, this movie portrayed solid values.
Where did life come from? Is evolution really the best scientific answer? Answer
Can evolution be the source of life in all its complexity? Answer
The boy, Sosuke, even serves as a worthy role model for children. He rescues Ponyo, encourages his mother to forgive his father, treats elderly ladies compassionately, and demonstrates courage in the face of danger.
As with most Miyazaki’s films, this one briefly touches on the importance of protecting the environment, which is compatible with Scripture. Psalm 24:1a says, “The Earth is the LORD’S and everything in it.”
EARTH’S ENVIRONMENT—Should Christians be concerned about the environment? Answer
The main theme of this movie is love, whether it’s Fujimoto’s love for the environment and his fish children, Lisa’s love for her family and the elderly ladies, or Ponyo and Sosuke’s love for one other. These characters care about each other deeply and go to great, and often sacrificial lengths to protect and help one another.
Overall, this movie contains both fast-paced action and humorous little touches. The lavish, color saturated visuals are a treat for the eyes, and the tale of a little fish with big dreams a treat for the heart. This movie is targeted towards kids, but can be enjoyed by anyone.
Violence: Light / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: None
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.