Running time: 100 minutes
Hayao Miyazaki (dir.)
Hayao Miyazaki (writer)
Joe Hisaishi (music)
Cate Blanchett as Gran Mamare (voice: English version)
Noah Lindsey Cyrus as Ponyo (voice: English version)
Matt Damon as Koichi (voice: English version)
Tina Fey as Lisa (voice: English version)
Frankie Jonas as Sosuke (voice: English version)
Cloris Leachman as Yoshie (voice: English version)
Liam Neeson as Fujimoto (voice: English version)
Lily Tomlin as Toki (voice: English version)
Betty White as Noriko (voice: English version)
(L-R) Ponyo, Sosuke © 2009 Nibariki-GNDHDDT© 2008 Nibariki-GNDHDDT. All rights reserved
Our reviews below:
Ponyo Review By John C.
***1/4 (out of 4)
The latest from master film maker Hayao Miyazaki, Ponyo, is not as mature as his other outings, but still a wonder to watch. It’s the story of a little girl fish, who longs to be a human princess. It’s a tale that would make Hans Christian Andersen proud, and is actually based in part on The Little Mermaid.
Already a hit in it’s native Japan, it’s been dubbed to feel like something straight out of the mouse-house. Even though the dubbing was done under the direction of Pixar chief John Lasseter. The voice acting by the all-star cast of adults is good, but they seemed picked to headline posters more than anything else. If it gets people to the theatre, then that's fine. But, the two kids seemed to be picked for nothing more than their last names. Frankie Jonas (younger brother of the three singing Jonas’) is fine as Sosuke, but I found Noah Cyrus’s, (Miley’s younger sister), shrill vocals for Ponyo to be kind of grating, especially when the character is shrieking for ham.
Why is ham the human food that she desires most? I’m not sure, it may have been something that made more sense in the original version, but was changed in the translation. It may have also just been a whimsical plot-point that we aren’t mean’t to quite understand. I’m also not sure why Ponyo is always referred to as a gold fish, because she’s pink, and looked more like a baby mermaid. She’s very cute, but doesn’t really resemble a fish.
The part that really dampened my appreciation of the of the movie was the song over the end credits. We are first treated to an English translation of the Ponyo theme song, which has terrible lyrics like, “Ponyo, Ponyo, Ponyo, fishy by the sea - Ponyo, Ponyo, with the round tummy”. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, the Jonas’ come on and start singing a rap version. Who wants to listen to kids rapping what sound like Raffi lyrics. This is truly dreadful, especially after the wonderful animation and beautiful orchestral score.
The hand-drawn animation is magnificent, and the story is sweet. This film is beautiful to look at, but I can’t say it left a lasting impression on me. Unlike other recent animated films like Coraline and Up, which I still find myself thinking about long after I’ve seen them. While it is great to look at, it’s definitely more for kids.
All negatives aside, Ponyo is a very well-made film. The fact that every image was drawn by hand makes it even better. For kids, it’s excellent entertainment. It’s also great to look at, and will keep the adults who bring them fully immersed in the visuals. Whether you go to the theatre, or wait for the DVD, it’s definitely worth watching with the entire family.
Ponyo Review By Erin V.
***1/2 (out of 4)
Ponyo, originally known as Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, (Gake no ue no Ponyo in Japan), is the story of a little boy named Sosuke, who finds a little 'fish' in the ocean. He rescues her from a jar, and puts her in his bucket, and proudly shows his mother his new pet 'goldfish'. She is a very cute little thing, but not quite like a fish though. Little does Sosuke know that she actually is a little mermaid of sorts, who longs to be a human girl much to her father's dismay. The story is quite interesting, but also quite straightforward at the same time. Younger audiences will definitely be able to follow along and enjoy this film.
I found this movie to be quite beautiful to watch. The animation is exquisite, and the music throughout the film features a wonderful orchestral score. The dubbing was done ok, although I would love to see the original Japanese version at some point. The fact that this is all drawn by hand is what really amazes me though. The level of work put into this film really shows dedication. Like other Studio Ghibli films, the English version was handled by Disney and John Lasseter of Pixar.
The one thing that I found kind of brought the film down for me, was during the end credits. The original 'Ponyo' song in Japanese is alright, although the English translation sounds slightly strange. If that wasn't bad enough, the Jonas Brothers' kind of do a rap version of the song. Their style of music just doesn't fit this kind of movie with it's orchestral score and all. There is a time and place for everything. Just because Disney was involved doesn't mean that they need the Jonas' to cover the song. But, most people I guess won't stay for the credits anyways, so for them, it won't matter. I just hope next time maybe the decision will be made to leave the original language version of whatever song is there, rather than trying to dub/westernize the songs.
To finish though, I hope that people will go and see this film. As always, Hayao Miyazaki delivers a fine piece of work that is a delight to watch on screen.
Ponyo Review By Nicole
***1/2 (out of 4)
Ponyo is a beautifully animated film about an unlikely friendship. Sosuke, a five year old boy, finds a baby mermaid trapped in a discarded jar. He thinks she is a goldfish, whom he named Ponyo. Sosuke puts Ponyo in a bucket of water, shows her to his mother, and brings her everywhere with him; to school, on car rides, and to the nursing home where his mother works. Much to Sosuke's delight, Ponyo can talk, and likes to eat the ham of of Sosuke's sandwich. Meanwhile, Ponyo's father, the sea wizard, is unhappy that Ponyo is not only with a human, she wants to be human. After all, humans were the ones who polluted the ocean. Things have become so out of balance, that a huge tsunami wave comes in, flooding the town, and putting everyone, including Sosuke's seafaring father, in danger. Can the friendship between Ponyo and Sosuke be enough to restore balance and save the town?
I really like Ponyo. The animation is very detailed, colourful, and pleasant to look at. The modern day, environmentally themed story, inspired by The Little Mermaid, is engaging, entertaining, and very timely. The score by Joe Hisaishi is very beautiful, complementing the visuals and story quite nicely. I also enjoyed seeing the beauty of the Japanese culture richly portrayed in another one of Hayao Miyazaki's animated masterpieces. The only thing that didn't work was the Jonas brother's take on the Ponyo theme at the end of the credits. This took me completely out of the quiet mood of the film. However, most people will not be subject to this song, as they will have long since left. Overall, Ponyo is an interesting and intelligent movie that will entertain anyone from age 6 to adult.
Ponyo Review By Maureen
***1/2 (out of 4)
'Ponyo' is an absolutely charming, beautifully animated, modern-day fairy tale. The opening five to ten minutes of this film are a visual and auditory delight. The music score is rich and classical and just beautiful. Ponyo is truly an artistic gem.
The story itself is simple and sweet. The main character is a five year old mermaid who longs to be a human girl. This angers her seawizard father who feels humans are to blame for the pollution in the oceans and the imbalance in nature. The imbalance shows itself in a powerful tsunami.
When Ponyo ends up on land she is found by a five year old boy named Sosuke. Sosuke thinks Ponyo is a goldfish and is thrilled when Ponyo evolves into a human girl. The two become best friends and together they help save Sosuke's mother and the senior residents at the nursing home where Sosuke's mother works from the terrible floods.
The friendship between Ponyo and Sosuke is really sweet to watch. There is also enough adventure to keep the story interesting for older children and adults. Overall, this is a lovely movie. Ponyo provides a nice change from a lot of the mediocre animation that many children watch on television.
If you appreciate beautiful animation and music and want to expose your six to ten year olds to something different then go see Ponyo in theatres. Just be sure to leave before the awful Jonas Brother's song in the final credits. It just doesn't fit the mood of the movie.
Ponyo Review By Tony
*** (out of 4)
The latest feature from the hand-drawn Animé master Hayao Miyazaki, Ponyo is a contemporary Japanese variant of the mermaid-turned-human myth. As a Gaijin (non-Japanese), I didn’t get all the underlining meaning, some of which was no doubt lost in translation, but at the simplest level the tale is appealing to all ages. As expected, it is beautiful to watch. Ponyo is adorable, though underwater she no more resembles a goldfish than Arthur looks like an aardvark. The American voice cast is all good, even if the principals–the little boy Ssuke and fish-turned-girl Ponyo–may have been chosen for this Disney release on account of their surnames Jonas and Cyrus respectively.
Unfortunately, we have to downgrade our rating of the American version. The largely romantic symphonic score includes three songs, the first of which is a languid operatic tune that beautifully evokes the underwater world at the beginning. As the story draws to a close over an orchestral climax, the screen goes blank, followed by the credits. The first group of “talent” credits, with the hand-printed names whimsically placed with rebus-like icons over colourful stills, is accompanied by the happy title song sung by children. Despite the sudden change in musical style and dumb English translation, I didn’t mind being reminded in this way that the film is for little kids as well as the rest of us. What follows under the long black and white list of technical credits made me regret for once our unusual practice of staying right to the end. Presumably in an attempt by the Disney suits to be “cool”, the song suddenly turned into a Jonas rap (a dreadful oxymoron) that wiped the smiles off our faces.
(L-R) Lisa, Sosuke, Ponyo © 2009 Nibariki-GNDHDDT© 2008 Nibariki-GNDHDDT. All rights reserved
Consensus: With beautiful animation and background orchestral score, Ponyo is a nice film to watch. While it is not without it's flaws, this is one that you can bring younger audiences to, and they will really enjoy it. ***1/3 (Out of 4)
Ponyo © 2009 Nibariki-GNDHDDT© 2008 Nibariki-GNDHDDT. All rights reserved